Legal right to high-speed broadband for 'world-class digital infrastructure'

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Every household is to have a legal right to high-speed broadband under measures to make the UK a "world leader in the digital economy".

The Government expects an initial minimum speed of at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) under the new broadband universal service obligation (USO) included in the Digital Economy Bill, which will also include powers to direct Ofcom to review this over time to ensure it is "still sufficient for modern life".

There would be a reasonable cost threshold above which the remotest properties could be expected to contribute to the cost of their connection.

The Government said a USO set at 10Mbps could benefit up to a million UK premises which might otherwise be left behind.

The Bill, which aims to enable the building of a "world-class digital infrastructure" including fast broadband and mobile networks, also includes a new Electronic Communications Code to cut the cost and simplify the building of mobile and superfast broadband infrastructure and new and simpler planning rules for building infrastructure.

Under efforts to empower consumers, Ofcom will be able to order providers to release data about complaints and broadband speeds to help consumers make informed choices, and those wanting to switch would only have to deal with their new provider to speed up and simplify the process.

In a significant step, consumers would have the right to automatic compensation when things go wrong with their broadband.

Age verification will be required for all sites containing pornographic material, following a study last year that found one in five children aged between 11 and 17 had seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them.

Consumers will be further encouraged to switch between providers under the Better Markets Bill, which also aims to speed up the decision-making process for competition investigations.

Figures suggested many households could save up to £390 a year by switching three providers.