Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator has proposed BT and KCOM as the sole universal service providers in the UK. This proposal has come up because Ofcom is responsible for the implementation of a legislation introduced in March by the UK government for a broadband universal service obligation (USO).
The USO aims to give eligible homes and businesses a decent broadband connection. The proposal will see BT as the universal service provider across the whole of the UK except the Hull area, which will be provided for by KCOM.
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).