Who replies to consultations, and what do they say? The case of broadband universal service in the UK

Stocker, Volker and Whalley, Jason (2019) Who replies to consultations, and what do they say? The case of broadband universal service in the UK. Telecommunications Policy, 43 (8). p. 101823. ISSN 0308-5961

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.telpol.2019.04.007


Over the last decade or so, access to broadband services has become increasingly important. While many in the UK already benefit from the provision of broadband, some, especially those located in more rural and remote areas, do not – they may not be able to access the Internet and when they do, their connection and consumer experience may be poor. After trying to resolve this through a stream of different initiatives, the UK government announced a broadband universal service obligation (USO) of 10 Mbps in late 2015. Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator, launched a consultation in April 2016 and sought the views of interested parties. The consultation attracted considerable interest, but after the submissions from orchestrated campaigns are discounted just over 100 responses remain. But who contributed and what did they say? To explore these two questions, this paper adopts a qualitative approach, using NVIVO, to analyse the responses to the consultation. We show that contributions were highly diverse, reflecting both the complexity of the issue as well as its politicised nature. A lack of agreement among the responses is revealed and divergent views on key issues like the appropriateness of 10 Mbps, whether this should change, how it should be funded or what technologies should be used exist. In this paper, we provide a critical discussion of and derive implications for the broadband USO. We tentatively conclude that those in rural and remote areas that the USO intends to help are caught between two countervailing forces – speed and cost deployment – that interact to ensure that whatever resolution to provide broadband access, some will likely be unhappy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Universal service, Broadband, Internet access, Consultation, UK
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
G500 Information Systems
H600 Electronic and Electrical Engineering
L300 Sociology
N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 09:28
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 09:45
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39740

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