Rural homes and businesses which don't have enough broadband speed to meet the most basic needs, will not benefit greatly from new Government regulations, a communications expert has warned.
Homes and businesses will have a legal right to demand high-speed broadband by 2020 under new rules to help the 1.1 million premises who cannot access broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps, putting paid to a BT voluntary plan to improve speeds.
The Government has confirmed that everyone in the UK will have access to speeds of at least 10 Mbps – the speed required to watch Netflix or browse YouTube – under a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO).
Under the plan, providers will face a legal requirement to provide high-speed broadband to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold. Ofcom has said 10 Mbps is needed to meet the requirements of an average family. The Government said it believed that only a regulatory USO offered sufficient certainty and the legal enforceability required to ensure high-speed broadband access for the whole of the UK by 2020.
Many people don't realise that under the new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) there is a cash threshold of £3,400, excluding VAT. The costs go up exponentially in remote areas to tens of thousands of pounds with the consumer having to fund the difference. It just isn't good for rural areas, particularly if they want dedicated internet connections in order to guarantee speeds.
Beacon and Equinox are working together to guide businesses through the changes. Dave Millett of Equinox says that they are on hand to "help large numbers of rural businesses to understand their options and make the right choices".
Top Tips for hotels from Dave Millett of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox:
- The No.1 complaint in hotels is the lack of decent WiFi, so invest in the right internet connection to meet the needs of your guests.
- Even if you have a good internet connection do not daisy chain the WiFi access points as one heavy user can slow service for everyone – ensure each access point is individually connected
- When providing WiFi to your guests, ensure you meet your data protection legislation – they must positively opt in for you to store their details including IP addresses. You must ensure it is reasonable for you to keep it and that adequate security measures are taken to protect it. Fines can be as high as 4% of annual turnover
- Collect guest data when providing WiFi, particularly in public areas such as bars and restaurants where it may not be just overnight guests. This can be used for future marketing, assuming you’ve met GDPR requirements
- When considering any telecoms investment, don’t just look at the cost. Consider how many more rooms per night, or restaurant covers, have to be sold to cover the costs. How likely is it that the additional spend will help with the additional sales you need to make?
- Look at recent guest reviews. What are they asking for? If they are, for example, saying the WiFi needs to be improved, give them what they want and then tell everyone you’ve done it. This can be via the review site or via your email/social media marketing
- Measure the mobile phone signal in your rooms. If it is poor, consider your options. Do you need to add signal boosters or could you offer another solution, such as free calls through your telephone system?