About broadband universal service

We’re working with Ofcom, the independent communications regulator, to deliver the broadband universal service obligation (USO).

It’s a piece of government legislation that gives eligible UK addresses the right to request a ‘decent’ broadband connection. 

About broadband universal service

We’re working with Ofcom, the independent communications regulator, to deliver the broadband universal service obligation (USO).

It’s a piece of government legislation that gives eligible UK addresses the right to request a ‘decent’ broadband connection. 

Frequently asked questions

You can request a network build through our dedicated help desk. Once you request a universal service connection, we’ll confirm whether your address is eligible. This includes letting you know whether the estimated cost of building the necessary network will be less than the £3,400 (exclusive of VAT) threshold. This may take 30 days. After this, we’ll be able to start planning the work.

If the estimated cost is more than £3,400 (exclusive of VAT), we can carry out a full survey and give you a detailed, final quote. This may take 60 days. If you’re happy to pay the quoted costs, then we can start planning the work once we’ve received your payment. You’ll have 30 days to change your mind. After that the payment is non-refundable except in accordance with the broadband universal service terms and conditions.

 

Lots of factors can increase the cost, so upgrading your connection can prove expensive. If your home or premises is eligible, the USO scheme can cover up to £3,400 (exclusive of VAT) towards the final build cost.

But building or upgrading network infrastructure can be a major civil engineering project. It can involve digging up roads or pavements, running cables overhead and trimming trees. In remote and rural areas, the distance to the nearest telephone exchange can mean more cabling is needed. Any of these, or other factors, can make build costs significantly higher than the amount covered by the scheme.

We’ll let you know if the cost of upgrading your connection will be more than £3,400.  If so, you’ll need to pay all excess costs above £3,400 if you still want us to go ahead.

We’ll do what we can to minimise the cost. So when we carry out an assessment, we’ll take into account how some of the new network can also reach other eligible properties nearby.

 

We aim to deliver every network build as quickly as possible – ideally within 12 months. However, it may take up to 24 months for some, or longer in exceptional cases. Some upgrades will take longer than others, but we’ll let you know how long we expect it to take early in the process.

On rare occasions delays will occur due to circumstances outside of our control. For example, it could take us longer than we thought to get permission to close roads, we might not be able to lay our cables or underground duct routes where we need to due to obstacles, or we might come across archaeology or a protected wildlife species. If this happens we’ll keep you updated.

If the build will take longer than 24 months, or in the exceptional circumstances that we’re unable to complete the network upgrade, we’ll let you know.

Yes, there might be. If the USO doesn’t work for you, there are a number of other schemes that could help you get connected to better broadband infrastructure.

You could see if Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership programme could help upgrade your area’s broadband network. This helps local communities come together and share the costs of an upgrade. This scheme is completely separate to the USO and is run by Openreach, independent of BT Group. Find out more.

The UK Government has also announced it will be investing £5 billion in delivering new ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband infrastructure to areas where it’s not currently commercially viable to do so. So, if you can’t currently get a USO level connection, you could be covered by this. The Government has said the money will be spent on an ‘outside-in’ principle. So those with the lowest speeds should get the benefits of the money first.

There are also ongoing schemes in the devolved nations. The Northern Irish Executive is delivering Project Stratum. The Scottish Government’s R100 scheme plans to give access to superfast broadband to all Scottish premises. Both these schemes may offer a way of getting better broadband infrastructure in eligible areas if the USO isn’t right for you.

Other schemes may also be available.

Yes, as long as it’s in a fixed location and is either a home or a business. It’ll need to meet the other criteria as well. When you make your request we might ask for evidence, such as a copy of your council tax bill if it’s your home, or your business rates bill if it’s a business.

Use the postcode checker on this page to find out what solutions are already available to you and if you could be eligible for a universal service connection. If we think you're eligible, you'll be directed to call our dedicated universal service help desk to confirm.  You can also find out more on Ofcom’s broadband universal service help page

We hope that you’ll never have reason to complain about any aspect of our services.

However, if you have a complaint related to your current broadband speed or service, you need to call your existing service provider so they can help you.

If your complaint is related to the broadband universal service process, then you should call the universal service help desk on 0800 783 0223 so they can help you.

You can raise a complaint at any time. We will try to solve the issue quickly where we can, but there may be times when it may take a while to sort out. We’ll let you know how long it’s going to take and when to expect an update. If, after contacting us, we have not resolved your complaint within eight weeks or if we are unable to resolve the situation, you may refer your complaint to Ombudsman Services, free of charge.