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Report of the Digital Government Review

Access: broadband and connectivity

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Any commentary on digital inclusion cannot neglect the issue of broadband access across the country. Fully addressing this issue is not within the scope of our report but it is something that we have been acutely aware of throughout.

During the review, multiple submissions and comments were made stating the need for changes to the broadband market, the need for rural broadband, the potential of white space technologies, the need for free Wi-Fi in all municipal areas [20], the need for telecommunications operators to offer cheaper deals to excluded citizens, the benefits of local authorities negotiating group deals for digital access for citizens in need, or the need for an updated Universal Service Obligation.

These are complex matters and could form a policy review in their own right. Without wishing to prejudice other policy groups working on this area, the Digital Government Review team would recommend that at a minimum the next government should ask Ofcom to produce a report on a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for Internet access within 90 days of taking office.

Recommendation 6

Priority: High

Government should direct Ofcom to produce a report on a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for Internet access to be delivered within 90 days of taking office.

This report should consider how a USO could support both fixed and mobile services and whether a USO would usefully describe different obligations for differing sections of the market.

[20] Some studies show that free municipal Wi-Fi does not work Others show that it can As with other items we suspect the answer varies with local needs.

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