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Ofcom broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO)

Ofcom broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO)

Ofcom broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO)

What is the broadband USO?

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) gives home and business customers across the UK the right to request affordable broadband connection speeds.

If you can’t get a download speed of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of 1Mbps from any broadband provider, you have the right to request a USO connection.

Why 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds?

The Government set out these minimum speeds for the USO in March 2018.

Ofcom’s research showed that 10Mbps was the speed needed to meet an average household’s needs. These speeds allow many people in the same house or office to use the Internet at the same time. Mainly for things such as, browsing, video streaming, video calls and gaming. Ofcom is aware these minimum speeds will need to increase over time.




How is Ofcom involved?

Ofcom has chosen two Universal Service Providers who will deal with all USO connections.

  • KCOM will be the Universal Service Provider for the Hull area, and BT will cover the rest of the UK.
  • Ofcom have set the rules the Universal Service Providers must follow, to make sure they set up every USO connection as quickly as possible.

When will broadband USO connections be available?

USO requests can be made from 20th March 2020.

Will everyone be able get a USO connection?

You’ll only be eligible for a USO connection if:

  • You can’t get download speeds of at least 10Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps from any existing networks.
  • The cost of your connection is not more than £3,400, or you can only get a service which costs over £45 per month.
  • You are not due to get USO a service from another publicly-funded scheme.

Once you’ve made a request your Universal Service Provider will have up to 30 days to confirm if you qualify for a USO.

Will I need to pay?

You’d only have to pay towards the cost of setting up a new USO connection if it’s above £3,400. 

The connection can still be made if you want to pay the extra costs, or you do some work yourself to help bring the costs down.  Your Universal Service Provider will give you the details of what you’d need to do.   

There’s also the option of using other technology, such as available satellite, fibre and mobile services outside the USO scheme.

You could also choose to keep your existing service which delivers a slower speed.

If the cost is above £3,400 and you’d still like to go ahead, then your Universal Service Provider will carry out a full survey and provide a quote within 60 days.

You can then choose whether to pay the extra costs, or look into other options.

I think I’m getting less than 10Mbps what do I do?

If you think you can’t get at least 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds, please give us a call on 0800 432 0200.

Business broadband customers, please call us on 0800 028 0282 (from within the UK).+44 330 123 9123 (from abroad).

The speed we provide to you can vary depending on a number of things, such as:

  • The time of day
  • How many people are online at busy times
  • The quality of wiring in your building (this may be outside of our control)

We’d only suggest you make a USO request after we’ve run speed tests on your line and looked into fibre broadband options in your area.

We’ve got some useful tips about speed in our Broadband Help guide

If you’ve got an unlimited broadband package you can log in to your account to see if you can get fibre broadband.

How do I request a USO?

BT have set up the USO Helpdesk. This can give advice on what options are available to you and whether or not you can apply for a USO service.

USO Helpdesk Tel:  0800 783 0223
Monday – Saturday 8am – 6pm.  

Calls to this number are free from a UK landline or mobile.

The USO Helpdesk isn’t run by us. If you got any questions about your Plusnet service please give us call or check our Broadband Help guide.