Cumbria's forgotten homes 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).

But Jonathan Harris, senior programme manager with Connecting Cumbria, a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT, said the announcement was not good news for the county which has almost 30,000 homes currently without adequate broadband connections.

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.

It said it welcomed BT's "continued investment to deliver broadband to all parts of the UK".

But Mr Harris, who had been hoping to see superfast broadband delivered to 93 per cent of residents and businesses in the county by September next year through Connecting Cumbria, described the Government plan as disappointing.

He said: “It is not good news at all for Cumbria. For one thing it won't happen until 2020 and also it means BT's voluntary universal broadband offer of £600 million is now off the table.

“Cumbria would have got a reasonable share of that figure because of its rural nature. I would have much rather have seen BT investing in broadband rather than this plan. There won't be any offer – people will have to apply themselves and they won't be able to do this until 2020 which is still some time away.

“Also many people don't realise that under the new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) there is a cash threshold of £3,400. The costs go up exponentially in remote areas of Cumbria to tens of thousands of pounds with the consumer having to fund the difference. It just isn't good for an area like Cumbria.”

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high-speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work.

"This is all part of our work on ensuring that Britain's telecoms infrastructure is fit for the future and will continue to deliver the connectivity that consumers need in the digital age."

A BT spokesman said: "We respect the Government's decision. BT and Openreach want to get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK so we'll continue to explore the commercial options for bringing faster speeds to those parts of the country which are hardest to reach.

"Alongside this, we'll work closely with Government, Ofcom and industry to help deliver the regulatory USO.

"We look forward to receiving more details from the Government outlining its approach to defining the regulatory USO, including the proposed funding mechanism."

Dave Millett, an independent telecoms expert, said: “ At last some good news – of sorts. The Government has finally told BT that universal supply of broadband is mandatory and everyone must get minimum speeds. The catches are; it is not until 2020 and the speed is just 10 Mbps.

“ Whilst 10 Mbps may have been reasonable when the target was set several years ago it is now outdated.”

Earlier this week Chris Conder, founder member and volunteer with B4RN, a community benefit broadband provider operating in south Cumbria, backed demands by Lord Adonis, head of the National Infrastructure Commission, for urgent action to be taken over the poor broadband service in rural areas.

Lord Adonis said Ofcom and the Government needed to "put all options on the table" to tackle coverage black spots which left four out of five rural homes without any 4G service indoors. These should include possible legal and regulatory changes.