Feeds

Labour to push for broadband tax before election

Tory row ahead

High performance access to file storage

The Labour government has reaffirmed its commitment to a 50p per month tax on every landline, and vowed to push through the necessary legislation before the general election in May.

Plans for the levy, to subsidise rollout of fibre-based broadband services in rural regions, were revealed in the final Digital Britain report in June.

But after the announcement there was little sign of Whitehall moving to implement the new tax, and speculation grew that it would be dropped. In August the new Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms added to doubts when he declined to commit to action before the election.

Yesterday however, he confirmed legislation would be brought forward before next May. "[It] will be in the Finance Bill which I'm also responsible for at the Treasury, and my aim is that we should legislate for that this side of the general election," he told a British Computer Society audience.

The revived plans could set up a political clash ahead of the election. Normally the last Finance Bill of a parliament contains only uncontroversial measures, but the Tories have already publicly opposed a broadband tax.

The government estimates the levy will raise between £150m and £175m per year. It wants communications providers to act as tax collectors by adding 50p to every bill and then passing it to a central fund. Most of the industry is expected to resist such a levy.

BT is committed to connecting 40 percent of the country to faster broadband by 2012. It is installing fibre as far as street side cabinets, which will offer theoretical downstream speeds of up to 40Mbit/s.

The £1.5bn investment is targeted at densely populated urban areas, prompting fears of a new digital divide. The tax and subsidy fund are Labour's policy response.

Separately today, BT announced it expects to double the reach of its ongoing ADSL2+ exchange upgrade programme, which offers downstream speeds of up to 24Mbit/s over existing copper infrastructure. It said 75 per cent of premises will be covered by 2011. The programme is years behind schedule. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.