Broadband Tax Dead In The Water?

You may recall the current UK government wanted to start charging everyone with a fixed telephone line an extra 50p per month ‘Broadband tax’ to help improve internet access in the UK. The cross-party Business Innovation and Skills Committee have declared this tax “unfair” saying most of those who pay would not benefit from the tax. The BBC report that committee said,  

“We believe that a 50p levy placed on fixed telecommunication lines is an ill-directed charge. It will place a disproportionate cost on a majority who will not, or are unable to, reap the benefits of that charge.”

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The tax is part of the proposed Digital Economy Bill which also guaranteed a minimum 2mb per second to everyone in the UK by 2012 and “Superfast” broadband by 2017. The committee agreed that they should deliver 2Mbps to all by 2012 but also said that it was “concerned” that the government had not defined what it guaranteed – broadband speeds can vary due to location and time of day.  The committee commented that the government “would define its own targets, delivery mechanisms and terms of reference. This is not acceptable”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills responded to the committee saying that the government wanted everyone to have  “access the huge social, economic and health benefits” that high speeds offer.”

“Our analysis shows that without intervention, the market will only reach up to 70% of the country, so it’s vital we act now to ensure no area is left behind,” said a spokesman.

The Committee consisted of three Conservatives, six from Labour and two Liberal Democrats, so whoever is in government come the next election they would have an uphill struggle trying to make this tax legal. The BBC has opened its comment section on the subject and it’s fair to say most people are not impressed:

“This is a fair tax,” commented one poster, “I am confident that this tax will instantly transform the country into a new digital age! Similarly to how road tax kept the roads gritted and snow free this winter.”

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