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Government announces "broadband tax"

By Barry Collins

Posted on 16 Jun 2009 at 15:49

The Government is planning a 50p a month levy on fixed-line connections to pay for next-generation broadband.

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The proposal forms part of today's Digital Britain report, authored by outgoing Communications Minister Lord Carter.

Announcing the proposals in the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw claimed private investment alone wouldn't be enough to secure a nationwide rollout of fibre broadband.

"Left to the market, true super-fast broadband will only reach two thirds of homes and businesses in the next decade," Bradshaw claimed.

The report claims the Government is "considering a number of options", including "a supplement in the region of 50p a month on fixed lines which would raise money for a 'Final Third' fund that would be used to secure roll out to the final third of the UK population" by 2017.

Universal service commitment

The Government has also reaffirmed its commitment to universal 2Mbits/sec broadband by 2012.

The report states the commitment will be met via "several elements including simple and complex in-house wiring solutions, deploying fibre to the street for a selected number of cabinets and a wireless solution using either mobile or satellite".

The Government admits that resolving in-house wiring issues could come at a cost to the consumer, while the industry will be expected to foot the bill for the deployment of fixed/wireless services to meet the 2Mbits/sec threshold.

However, the report doesn't detail exactly how these costs will be shared. "It is not possible to include quantitative information on the expected costs and benefits of these proposals as they may influence the outcome of the subsequent competitive tendering process," the report claims. "These will be published in a final impact assessment which will be produced once this has taken place."

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