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Britain just guaranteed broadband internet access to all homes and businesses

On Wednesday, the British government said that by 2020 it will guarantee broadband internet access of at least 10 Mbps to all houses and businesses in the U.K. that request it, at a reasonable cost. Britain's Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport rejected a proposal from network provider BT to voluntarily connect the 4 percent of U.K. homes and offices, or. 1.1 million properties, that don't have broadband internet access, mostly in rural areas, deciding that only a universal service obligation would provide certainty.

Matt Hancock, Britain's digital minister, said this is about access, not forcing Britons to use the internet. "Access means you can phone up somebody, ask for it, and then someone has the legal duty to deliver on that promise," he told BBC Radio 4. "It is about having the right to demand it, so it will be an on-demand program. So if you don't go on the internet, aren't interested, then you won't phone up and demand this."

"The government is taking quite a risk," says BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones. "Now it is the regulator's job to make sure this all works. There are now two years to push through new legislation, work out how to police it, and determine what is a reasonable cost threshold for hooking up really remote homes. Should be a doddle, shouldn't it?"