A Universal Service Obligation
A Universal Service Obligation (USO) comes from EU and UK legislation. Its aim is to address a perceived shortfall in a service, or range of services, to customers. Since 2003 the UK has a USO for voice services, payphones and an affordable scheme for low-income customers (which we call BT Basic). We’ve been designated as the Universal Service Provider (USP) to make these services available across the UK (KCom do the same in Hull).
Over the last few years DCMS and Ofcom have looked at how to make sure there are affordable broadband services for everyone in the UK. This has led to legislation (The Order) that covers the specification, eligibility and guidance for a broadband USO (which came into force on 23 April 2018).
In June, Ofcom named BT as the UK’s universal service provider (along with KCom in Hull). We are now working to deliver this obligation, ahead of the March 2020 start date.
BT is entitled to be compensated for costs that it would not be appropriate for us to cover. In November, Ofcom published a consultation on what rules and procedures we will need to follow to make a claim. These processes will apply to the broadband USO, but also to any other universal service obligations. The consultation is on-going and we will be responding.