As a Matter of Fax

Ofcom proposal to remove fax from the universal service obligation

Ofcom is proposing rules changes that will mean telecoms providers will no longer be required to provide fax services under the universal service obligation (USO).


The USO is a set of rules that makes sure phone services are available to people across the UK at an affordable price. There are two designated telecoms providers responsible for universal service in the UK – BT and KCOM (the latter operating in the Hull area only).  

The current USO was set out in 2003, when fax machines were more prevalent and email and instant messaging were less ubiquitous. So,at that time it was important the USO required BT and KCOM to provide fax services. 

Almost 20 years later, and the telecoms landscape has changed. Not only are alternatives to fax machines now more widely available, migration of telephone networks to internet protocol (IP) technology means fax services can no longer be guaranteed to work in the same way. 

Ofcom have considered it is appropriate for fax to be removed from the USO, given its limited ongoing use, as well as the fact that developments in technology now mean there are a range of alternatives available for people to use.