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back to article Unused phone lines to be taxed for rural broadband

Unused landlines will be taxed under government plans to subsidise rural broadband, and VAT will be charged on the new 50p per month tax. "The duty will be payable on all local loops that are made available for use by an owner whether or not the lines are actually used," the Treasury said today. "It will also be payable on all …

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FAIL

Two points...

1. How do they think they'll make people who only use the phone for voice, and have never had internet in their lives, pay a levy so others can have faster internet?

2. What do you think the chances are that the telcos will go along with this, given its blatant discrimination against fixed lines and in favour of mobile operators - who won't pay any levy at all? All phones or none! The telcos will keep this tied up in court for years before it gets implemented (if ever).

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah!

My uncle doesn't have a computer, wouldn't know how to use one (so never will), lives in the sticks and has a landline phone! Classic, really (his being a relative, aside).

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Unhappy

Two Points, One answer

If you (or an elderley relative) have an active telephone line (one that you pay a line rental on and coud use to make or receive calls) then you will pay this tax or end up in court for non-payment of taxes. It will be added to the bill

If you (or an elderley relative) have an active telephone line (one that you pay a line rental on and coud use to make or receive calls) then you will pay this tax or end up in court for non-payment of taxes. It will be added to the bill

Simples

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Silver badge

Tax on what?

So if I've got a VirginMedia package that does not include a phone line, do I still have to cough up the cash? It might make me insist they provide me with the line (given that there were no free ports when I had the service installed originally and I still wanted my BT line at that point) so that at least there's something worth taxing. My understanding of the tariffs are that it wouldn't actually cost me any more.

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Flame

That'll be over £400 less

They'll get from me then!

I only use the 2nd line because it's convenient being charged extra for a Service I don't want or need to fill these Media Snoops Pockets as well is too much!

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Badgers

Maybe I'm on my own here...

Having lived in the country for a while (I don't any more) and had to put up with paying for an "up to 8mbit" service which provided between 256k and 750k service, I don't mind paying an extra 50p a month to improve unprofitable middle-of-nowhere internet connections.

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Unhappy

good 4u

please pay mine too

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Thumb Up

Having never lived in the country...

I still support this tax. It's simple, for the countryside to be productive and friendly for recreation, someone has to live there. Being a nice guy, I want them to have access to the wonderful things that the Internet brings.

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BT Phone Boxes

Does this mean that BT will have to pay this tax on the lines to their boxes.

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Alert

Cable removal

So prepare for a tender from BT to industry for the removal of all the unneeded cables in rural areas, to reduce their costs, and thereby ensuring that rural faults no longer have any backup in the event of failure.

The last time BT were 'told' to do something like share colo space, it started the rationalisation of exchange space (purel coincidentally of course) and the sale of buildings so they were unable to share as 'its not ours anymore'.

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Black Helicopters

You read my mind!

"The duty will be payable on all local loops that are made available for use by an owner whether or not the lines are actually used," the Treasury said today.

This seems a typical Labour orgasmic thought. They don't think anything through before opening their mouths.

Why tax unused capacity It will wind up to what we have in VietNam in the larger cities - miles of 'washing lines' each one installed from the switching centre to the subscriber when someone signed up.

Many systems are adopting a prewired gridded cabling layout where the major cables intersect in street wiring cabinets and each home has two pairs, installed to provide back-up in case of failure.

The article also said: "It will also be payable on all local loops regardless of whether the loop consists of a copper pair, a co-axial cable or a fibre connection."

Does this mean wide area WiFi/Wimax us tax free?

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A tax on talking

In explicitly referencing VoIP, the Treasury has made it clear that it’s a tax on the use of the human voice. Watch out lungs, the breathing tax is on its way.

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Bronze badge

Unused lines

The wording of the article could have been better. Charging for unused copper loops does not mean charging for something that is not connected to the exchange. If you aren't paying for it, then there's no way to surcharge you for it either. Perhaps just a little bit of common sense might be in order.

As for the people on remote Scottish islands. Your line is already cross-subsidised. Putting a few lines over several miles of windswept moors is going to cost a great deal more in installation and maintenance costs that providing phone or cable to a block of flats in a suburban centre. Those miles of copper cable which slow down the data rate has a direct relationship to the costs of provision. Enjoy the fresh air, lack of pollution and congestion and quite moaning unless some of the urban types wake up and realise that they are cross-subsidising you (and more than for just phone lines).

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Stop

Not Scottish Islands

How about in the Midlands (a couple of miles from Althorpe and Northampton to be precise)? Paper sheathed wire in lead pipes on the 2 mile run from the exchange means that we get about 1Mbit when it's been dry for a while and less than 300Kbit when its wet.

We are not scheduled for an upgrade, because BT management say that they don't have any of this very old wiring left!

Very little in the countryside is subsidised, mainly because very little is what we get!

For instance, there are no busses that could get me to and from work on time, so perhaps I could work from home some of the time? Oh no - no broadband means that I have to get into the car to get to work.

Perhaps, I could use online banking, online purchasing, online local government access? Oh no - no broadband means that I have to get into the car to get to the offices/shops.

Forget all the money on fancy environmental quango projects, and give us decent broadband so that we don't have to get in the car all the time. I can guarantee that this reduce carbon emmissions more than any quango can!

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Small technical point

Just one that struck me reading the article rather than the comments <g>

In what flaming way is an optical fibre a 'local loop'. The morons who came up with this have no idea what they're talking about. A copper pair is a loop (usually).. if you stretch the point, maybe a co-ax could be considered a loop. A fibre doesn't even have electrical continuity so it's hardly a bloody loop! The government are morons!

After reading the article a couple of times, I think the people with a disconnected BT line can rest easy though, I am reading 'unused' as 'unused for voice', IE. if you're only using the BT line for ADSL, not if a previous occupant of the house once had 12 lines, you'll pay 6 quid :-)

That obviously hadn't occurred to them. Let's hope the taxweasels don't read el reg!

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Paris Hilton

2017?

Ah, 2017?

It must be a BT high priority job then?

How long did it take for Russia to get Siberia online?

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Flame

gah

Not the bill payer so it doesn't bother me. If I was then i'd find away around paying because my internet works fine as it is without subsidising somebody elses.

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Anonymous Coward

Could you ...

... find "away" to explain why you are not bothered why your bill payer may have to pay more?

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Boffin

This is a tax (duty) on the operator

" The duty will be payable on all local loops that are made available for use by an owner

whether or not the lines are actually used. "

3.8 The principle reason for applying the duty applying to each local loop is one of simplicity. If

the duty regime becomes more complex it would become more difficult and expensive for

industry and HMRC to deliver and administer.

3.9 A system that required wholesalers or retailers to demonstrate that a line was or was not in

use would have created significant extra burdens for both industry and HMRC. These burdens

would be disproportionate to the level of duty receipts that would be affected.

But the owner of my line is not me but BT. So if I decide I don't need a phone any more, 'cos I can use my mobile for the few calls I make. BT won't be billing me but they will be liable to the duty?

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WTF?

Why do we tax these services at all

For some time now I've wondered why we tax telephone or internet access at all?

Phone: Local government now uses what we in the States refer to as reverse 911 to notify us of a local emergency. So anyone without phone service is left out. The cost of basic service runs about $15 a month, but taxes almost doubles that cost.

Internet: Aren't we being encouraged to drive less? I generally shop from my computer, don't remember the last time I went to a mall or actually drove around town looking for something.

If government is truly concerned about global warming, w\then basic internet access should be FREE or at the very least FREE of taxes.

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“Treasury”

Who else read “Treasury” as “Treachery”? I know I did.

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Grenade

Arseholes-R-Us

The thieving technically illiterate scumbag bastards in Westminster just never learn, do they? In return for collecting an extra tax levy of less than 1% of the actual cost of their shiny new bollocks, they will only succeed in pissing off 99% landline renters - presumably most of whom will have a vote at the next election.

Guess who won't be getting my vote next time, for 872 reasons - including this latest act of thievery by these self-serving twat politicians.

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Ummmm...wait a mo......

For those people here who are panicking because they think that they'll be taxed on a BT line that runs to their house even if it is dormant:

How do you think BT are going to be able to charge you 50p per month for their copper wires running into your home if you don't actually have a contract with them? Where are they going to get your bank details from? Or your name? Unless you're the only person in the house listed on the electoral register, even if they can find out the names of the dwelling occupants, how are they going to know who to send the tax bill to? Get real folks: If the phone line is off and nobody at the house has any contract with BT, they're not going to be able to tax you!

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Big Brother

Unused lines not chargable..

The way I read it is that the householder can not be charged for any unused lines. My logic is that if you are not in a contract with the loop operator then there is no billing system in place to charge you. The operator on the other hand will still end up paying the £6/year for the line.

This might actually mean that BT will be running around physically disconnecting unused lines from their loops. The disconnect will be a win/win for them: a) no duty when it's not in use, b) a connection fee for any one who wants to use the line.

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Thumb Up

"Unused lines not chargable"

Well instead of ripping their lines up, I might protect them !!

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WTF?

Dumb and Dumber

Er, what if you only get your Internet connection from Virgin Media cable and phone service via VoIP or mobile?

In that case you will only have a co-ax cable for Internet/TV, and not the extra twisted pair phone cable required for a landline.

No doubt they will still tax you regardless...

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Anonymous Coward

tax virgin to pay bt?!!!!!!!!!

surely theres got to be some kind of unfair competition thing i taxing virgin media to pay for its rival bt's upgrades?!

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FAIL

Maybe it is time to change

I have a landline used solely for internet, and 0800 numbers. Generally, I make no calls as I have more than enough minutes on my mobile contract. Maybe it is time to look at mobile internet services and dump the landline altogether.

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Paris Hilton

Free Lunch Anyone...

My God. What a bunch of whiners! I've read more comments than I can remember about how bad broad band is in Britain, particularly outside metro areas. Now that there is a plan in place to roll out to rural customers, nobody wants to pay for it. Brilliant! Its 50P a month for crissakes. You all are a bunch of greedy, grasping, scraping old sinners. Bah humbug to the lot of you.

Paris, because she never worries about 50P.

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FAIL

Fast Internet from BT by 2017 ?

So I have to wait till 2017 to increase my 1 Meg connection? I pay for 8 but only get 1 Meg

If you bought 8 beers and opened the box and only 1 was full.... that would be fraudulent.

So how do they get away with this?

They should only be allowed to charge for actual speed in which case i'd only pay 3 UKP/month

that would make them get their arses in gear to upgrade.

Do they realise Mobile networks are deploying 7.2 Meg & 14.4 Meg over 3G HSPA right now ?

With many new 3G style routers (and Mi-Fi) emerging its looking like it might be worth a try...

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Tax scam ahead

From what I am reading, the Gov are intent on charging the BT and Virgin the 50p per line tax which is going to be vattable.

Thus, BT will pass this charge onto the resellers and their customers. Which in turn may produce extra costings for these companies, therefore, it may result in hight line rental charges exceeding the Gov applied 50p + VAT.

ie, at present the consumer might pay £10.00 per month line rental, the Line Provider may increase that to £12.00 + 50p rural broadband tax + VAT

Resulting in the Line Provider gaining extra profit.

Dosh towards BT's cost of improving their business

Gordon Brown & co creating another VAT revenue. (and no the Tories will NOT scrap it, simply because the next incoming government need to raise as much cash as possible to pay back the debt.

The only loser in all of this is the consumer.

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Gates Horns

Government should tax stupidity instead

Why tax telecommunications that make society at large more efficient to subsidize telecommunications to make rural society more efficient?

Why not tax something inefficient? Like MPs.

We should all be taxed 50p per MP, whether our MP works or not.

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Bronze badge

Government Bullshit - take your pick.

"Unused landlines will be taxed under government plans to subsidise rural broadband, and VAT will be charged on the new 50p per month tax."

I may be wrong, but wasn't BT "privatised" a few years ago - and when people complained, they were told that "market forces" would help keep BT in line.

Now, the government steps in and taxes BT users because "market forces" haven't upgraded the rural lines.

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Alert

It could be worse...

This sounds like a government tax grab based on not understanding how modern telco works. One office has 1600 pairs of lines going to the local telco but less than 300 are used and at least a quarter of those are E1 so do they get counted as one line or 30? Our smaller office has 200 lines in to the building but only about 20 of them are used by the 16 tenants.

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Stop

Rural broadband does not need improvement*

* for some values of "rural"

My in-laws live in rural Lincolnshire, in a small village with its own exchange. Their up-to-8Mb package is pretty much up-to-7.5+Mb during the day.

I live in an area of a large West Yorkshire city whose exchange is physically further away than the area covered by the exchange above - when the village became part of the conurbation, lines were put in to an existing exchange rather than building a new one.

All the providers in the unbundled exchange will offer is 0.5Mb at best - understandably I'm loathe to change from my current provider as my up-to-16Mb connection is a constant 2.3Mb, but if the best anyone says they will offer is 0.5, that's the most they'd have to try to provide.

Cable's out as well, as they won't dig up the Wimpy-laid brickwork street, and refuse to run the cable to the house through the back garden (no euphemism intended).

So taxing this city-dweller 6 quid a year to improve the lot of ruralites is not going to go down well.

And on top of that, what Value is Added by taking an extra 50p a month? How can VAT possibly be chargeable on it?

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Which telecom provider will get the money?

Call me a cynic but my guess is that BT would use any dosh they got to prioritise service upgrades in areas already covered by competitive Cable services. If the money really did get to proper rural areas - not wealthy London commuter belt but in the, as usual, disregarded "North of Watford Gap" I'd not mind making a small contribution.

My guess is that first on the list for upgrade will be Hambleden http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/30/rake_broadband/

Passing through Treasury and admin little of the money collected will end up being spent doing the job on the ground - and the providers will overcharge for however little work they can get away with.

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2017?

let me get that straight, twenty bloody seventeen?

that's it, i'm running my own fibre, and leasing out half the bandwidth.

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FAIL

Do I really care?

Another £6 per year for a phone line? Do I give a shit? I just saved £6 per *month* on my phone line moving to Utility Warehouse, and I didn't really give a shit about that either.

Anyway are we talking about unused lines (as in para #1 of article) or all lines (as in para #2 of article). I'll judge this after someone explains it carefully.

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Thumb Down

Let them pay for their own broadband

Why don't they just tax those in rural areas more for their own broadband. This country is becoming more and more communist

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WTF?

Ok

Sure, I'll pay more tax on broadband if you give me a reduction on the council tax. As I dont have a school within miles, dont have street lights, no library, no community centre, swimming pool or in fact any service from the council, except tipping a bin once a week.

But I expect you want me to subsidise your bag right? .....Its about living in a society that you take the good with the bad, rather than a selfish I'm all right Jack attitude, similar in fact to how the banking sector has operated??

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FAIL

Let them pay for their own broadband

OK cretin - We'll do you a deal: we'll pay more for our broadband if we can stop paying for your food (not a lot of that grown in cities), power (guess where all the power stations are?) water (many reservoirs in Kensington?) & paying for your trains, police, pavements, public lighting & a host of other services too tedious to mention which aren't available in the country.

All of OpenReach should be seized back into government control & fibre layed to 95-7% of homes with wireless provision for the last 3% at the same price. Would cost less than Northern Rock & improve the country, which after 12 years of Labour surely NEEDS it.

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Must get new glasses

I read the first line as "Unused landmines will be taxed". It's what the People's Princess would have wanted.

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FAIL

Oh no! Feel our pain...

Welcome to South Africa...

Here we pay a "line rental" charge of about 8 Pounds a month just to have the "privilege" of having a phone line running to our homes. We have to pay this whether we make voice phone calls or not. Why do we "have" to pay this fee you ask.... Because we only have one State/HalfPrivatised Hybrid monopoly that has been getting away with this tosh for years now. ADSL? Yup, we still have to pay the "line rental" charge as well as the ADSL profile account charge...

Seems like your "Bosses" in government have been taking a lesson from our fellers in how to squeeze every drop of blood from what should be a basic service at a low charge, if not completely free...

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Let me get this straight

So ZanuLabour will gouge 50p + VAT per line out of BT and Virgin in order to provide broadband access to 4 sheep farmers in Wales.

But who, pray tell, will actually roll the cable out? Would that be... mmm... BT and Virgin?

And why would they do that? Because Mr Taxman will give them some of our money back to do it with? Well, no, because they'll just use that money to gorge themselves on swan pate unless they're forced to spend it. Which will require binding legislation or a statutory instrument.

So since the legislation/instrument will force them to do it, wouldn't it be more efficient and - gasp - competitive to let them decide how they're going to fund it, rather than stealing money from us, via them, blowing half of it on bean counters, then giving the dregs back?

What's the real story here? I'm guessing that some half-wit nephews and cousins need a cushy placement on a Quango, and all the existing ones are full.

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