Wednesday, 17 June 2009

50p UK broadband tax per fixed phone line

As part of the Digital Britain report, outlined by Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw in Parliament yesterday, it was announced that a levy of 50p per month, which equates to £6 per year, is to be put on all fixed phone lines to help fund the Government's plan to bring broadband internet access and faster download speeds to every home in the country by 2012. The report proposed that the charge would help to upgrade the country's fixed-line network, a project on which BT and Virgin Media have already embarked. The charge would raise between £150m and £175m a year to extend next-generation broadband to the "final third" of the country that will not be reached by the market. Antony Walker, chief executive of the Broadband Stakeholders' Group, believes the tax will mean that 90% of the UK will be able to benefit from broadband of up to 50Mbps by 2017. The full report can be viewed in PDF here

In the BBC broadcast below, Lord Carter explains the need for a 50p levy:

However, many have questioned the charge, suggesting that the charge will not raise enough money and that Gordon Brown's vision of "access for all" is unachievable. Below are video links to an interview between Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman and Lord Carter, the man behind the Digital Britain Report, and the Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaking about the 50p levy in Parliament:

Jeremy Paxman interviewing Lord Carter
Jeremy Hunt speaking in Parliament

In summary, the Digital Britain report highlighted the following points of action:

  • a three-year plan to boost digital participation
  • universal access to broadband by 2012
  • fund to invest in next generation broadband
  • digital radio upgrade by 2015
  • liberalisation of 3G spectrum
  • legal and regulatory attack on digital piracy
  • support for public service content partnerships
  • changed role for Channel 4
  • consultation on how to fund local, national and regional news
  • £130m of BBC licence fee to pay for ITV regional news

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