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UK to guarantee high-speed internet to entire country

UK to guarantee high-speed internet to entire country
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The British government has said that it will guarantee a legal right to high-speed internet for all homes and businesses in the U.K. by 2020.

The U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has committed to giving homes and businesses, regardless of location, the right to demand internet speeds of at least 10mbps, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

The U.K.’s announcement comes as U.S. customers are facing a level of uncertainty after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the net neutrality rules put in place under former President Obama.

Repealing those rules leaves the door open for internet service providers to create “fast lanes,” which could end up increasing costs for customers to access higher internet speeds.

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Supporters of the repeal say that deregulating the industry will allow for more competition between internet service providers and will decrease costs overall, but opponents of the move are concerned that the FCC’s move will cause a higher level of inequality when it comes to internet access.

The U.K.’s proposed regulation will move to close the internet access gap between cities and rural areas. 

The head of the department, Digital Minister Matt Hancock, told BBC Radio 4 that the new provision would not mean that all homes would automatically receive faster speeds, but that they would have a legal right to demand it.

“It’s about having the right to demand it,” he said. “It’s an on-demand program. If you don’t go on the internet and aren’t interested then you won’t phone up and demand this.”

The U.K. government regulation will affect all internet service providers, requiring them to provide faster internet to anyone who demands it. Internet service provider BT told the government that it would voluntarily work to close that gap and that high speed access didn't need to be a legal requirement, but the government rejected its argument.

Net neutrality in Europe and the U.K. is currently enacted under European Union regulations.