Feeds

Labour to push for broadband tax before election

Tory row ahead

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.