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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-03140: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 23 September 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what analysis it has carried out of the potential impact of the proposed universal service obligation on its plans to roll out superfast broadband to 100% of premises.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 5 October 2016

The potential impact of the UK Government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband cannot be fully assessed until there is greater clarity on how it will be delivered across the UK. Ofcom is expected to publish its initial findings by December 2016. We have proposed to the UK Government and Ofcom that, in advance of this, they establish a Working Group involving the Scottish Government and other Devolved Administrations, to explore these issues and ensure alignment.

If designed effectively, the USO could help ensure that every part of the UK has an underlying fibre infrastructure that supports a range of technologies capable of delivering a 10Mbps service initially; but one that is dynamic and future-proofed, keeping pace as technology and service capabilities grow. As such, if designed in this way the USO could usefully support our plans to extend superfast access to 100% of premises.