back to article Darling confirms telephone line tax

Yesterday's budget confirmed Labour's intention to tax every phone line in the UK to the tune of 50 pence a month, providing funds for connecting the disconnected by 2017. The tax was widely expected, and was part of the Digital Britain proposals, but yesterday's speech confirmed that it will come in once Labour gets past the …


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  1. tony

    a title,

    So when are the country folk going to pay a tax to provide clean air and greater open space for the city dwellers?

    You pays your money and take your choice.

  2. YumDogfood

    The sense of giving us bad news before an election...WTF?

    Fuck off badger. I have no landline and only a dongle for mobile internet, but I suspect that tax will eventually creep over to my O2 contracts. The bastards.

  3. noroimusha

    that seems fair

    why do i have to pay for farmer Tom's internet upgrade when my internet in london Zone2 is not stable ?

    BT should sort out the lines cables and exchanges in the cities first

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Great news

    As a village dweller (although still get 1.4mbs), can I request my superfast broadband for 2nd October. Thanks.

    PS Townies are not paying for it, we ALL are paying for it and before people rant at me, I pay £200 year EXTRA council tax than the townies for LESS services, so who's sub'ing who? Eh? Eh? EH? Fiiigggghhhhhhtttttt.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Charge me more

    Charge me £1 a month more - i.e. an extra £12 a year for 3 years = £36 total.

    For that, connect the rural disconnected at 2 Mbit/s (i.e. those more than 5km from an exchange) and the urban at 100 Mbit/s. Note, not "shared" 100 Mbit/s and no capping. Deliver the 100 Mbit/s service within 2 years, the rural service within 3 years.

    Remove the extra tax after 3 years. Then open the market up so others can use the infrastructure.


    The current deal is a money spinner for BT and offers the majority of voters nothing.

    1. Jimmy Floyd


      Is that a serious post? Living in the countryside is hideously more expensive than cities, mainly due to worse transport and the lack of the benefits you get with economies of scale. Maybe you've missed all the news about rural areas becoming a no-go for the less-well-off?

      Or maybe you've forgotten where all your food, water and clean air actually comes from?

      Bizarrely for a NuLab idea, this one isn't that bad. Decent telecoms in the countryside would help prevent a Chinese-style exodus to the cities and is pretty essential when travel isn't as simple as an Oyster card. It's also better than raiding the BBC and doing what we British do so well: damaging our world-leading institutions in a shit-storm of self-serving political meddling.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Title required

        "Or maybe you've forgotten where all your food, water and clean air actually comes from?"

        Sunny foreign country -> refrigerated transport -> Tesco/Sainsbury/Asda/Morrisons

    2. mmiied

      re:a title

      it is in all the tax mony on petrol and on cars (an escencle in rule places where 15miles is a short distance) that gose to fund public transport in cities

    3. PsychicMonkey
      Thumb Down

      you are bot subbing us.

      your coucil tax goes to your council....

      It wouldn't be a problem to have this "tax" if it funded fibre for all, but it's not. it fibre for the "rural" areas. Plus it's not really a tax, it's a "Duty" which means they can add VAT on to it as well.

      My land line cost approx £10 a month, so 50p is a 20% duty plus vat.

      And what happens when the fibre roll out is paid for? who owns the fibre? will we still pay the duty then? I'm willing to bet yes.

      remember that Income tax was "Temporary"...

  6. zaax

    Put it on a pole

    Why can fiber be put on the poles that BT already have to these way-out communites?

    1. Steve X

      why not?

      Because those who live in the communities in question don't consider it important enough to pay what it would cost. So everyone else has to pay instead.

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Pole dancing

      Who would put the fibre there?

      Who will maintain it once it's up?

      Who will replace dodgy poles?

      Who will pay for the fibre?

      1. ml100

        Pole dancing

        Who would put the fibre there? Theres a tonne of fibre installers in the UK, BT being one.

        Who will maintain it once it's up? Read above

        Who will replace dodgy poles? Read above

        Who will pay for the fibre? As above - it might also be worth noting that fibre is cheaper than copper by quite a margin - its the termination, planning applications and digging up roads that costs the money.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    adsl hijacking

    This adsl hijacking was exactly what happened in my town. We had a wisp come in and begin planning, and as soon as it looked like we might have a chance to actually get a broadband connection BT announced the exchange upgrade programme where you needed a certain amount of registrations. At that point the WISP option was essentially dead in the water. I believe BT noticed that a lot of rural towns were beginning to investigate non-BT connectivity and so started their rollout with lots of publicity to kill it off as cheaply as possible. I expect something similar to occur with FTTH local rollouts - if it begins to look viable, BT will be forced to accelerate their rollout and make lots of noise about it to prevent communities organising their own solutions. Either way good for users, not so good for competition but we little people can't do much about that.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    50p at *least*

    Does anyone doubt this will rise?

    That it won't be ring fenced (handy for raiding if some other programme/department overspends).

    I cannot believe that ISP's cannot cross-subsidise their customers instead of this "we're so helpless we can't afford to run this extra fibre out. I doubt either BT or VM's yearly profits were exactly unhealthy.

    It's called investing in your user base or having a loss leader. as for wireless broadband I think *only* Ionica had a go at this seriously.

    Mine's the one with a burnt CD of Thunderclap Goldstein in the pocket.

  9. Citizen Kaned


    so us poor townies that cant afford to live in the sticks are paying for more well off people to get broadband. my heart bleeds.

    either way we are screwed. the tories will plunder the TV TAX to pay for their posh mates to get better broadband that the rest of us.

    of course people forget that BT was privatised by the tories so its their fault we have a shite BT now that is more interested in shareholders than providing a decent service to GB residents.

    im really looking forward to the election. which bunch of incompetant crooks will be in power soon to serve their own interests?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free laptops as well?

    I have no argument about making sure that everyone has access to decent and reasonably priced broadband (see recent story about BT wanting to charge £56K to install BB to a house in Wales), and a small tax may be a fair way to cover it (but why only 2MB?)

    BUT, given that the purpose seems to be to make it possible to 'improve efficiency' by making us all interact with our masters via the interwebs, will our masters also be providing the gadgetry that plugs into the wire? We know the Tories are laughably incompetent when it comes to IT but does Darling understand that just having a wire with 2MB broadband doesn't connect you up? Does he think we just stick our fingers in the socket? Is this a step to requiring compulsory PCs in every house (all running Windows and IE6 so that they are compatible with government surveillance and net-filtering software)? Who pays?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      "we have a shite BT now"

      Short memory have we?

      It may be shite now, but that's nothing compared to the enormous rancid cesspool of decaying faeces it used to be when it was a Nationalised Monopoly.

      They were so god-awfully bad that when competition finally turned up in the shape of Mercury, they picked up market share simply by being useless rather than completely and utterly fucking useless.

      I wonder how much rural fibre* would exist were BT still a monopoly and there was no threat of WISPs picking up a market. Remember when considering your answer that there's a world of difference between the government saying they want fibre and them actually providing the investment capital** to pay for it.

      *Or any bloody fibre at all for that matter.

      **Decent comms for the Wurzels, a load of new hospitals or a fat tax cut. Which of these options do you think is the vote-loser?

      1. Anonymous Coward


        TeeCee "It may be shite now, but that's nothing compared to the enormous rancid cesspool of decaying faeces it used to be when it was a Nationalised Monopoly."

        I dont really remember the broadband service that was provided by the nationalise monopoly, but I assume it must have been really bad to be worse than the cesspool I have now.

        I assume that in some parts of the country there may be competition but certainly not where I live. There is only 1 option of a telephone provider (although admittedly I can choose to pay through other companies this doesnt change the shite service), no options for cable, broadband sucks because no one wants to develop it.

        The house has the same phone line as was installed by the "rancid cesspool of decaying faeces" that you object to. It has the same gas and electricity provision and I still only have access to public transport provided by 1 bus company and 1 train company.

        Other than the fact I no longer get access to national drivers for improvements, nothing has changed other than the branding. At least when it was state run the excess in other areas could be re-distributed. Now because there isnt much need, the train only stops every six hours (every hour under the nationalised rail) even though it goes through the fucking station.

        I would love to see the parts of the country where there is actually competition in infrastructure services because then it might make sense to me. As it stands, the government gave a cash cow to companies who now have an effective monopoly and give the money to shareholders rather than other state services.

        Bloody wonderful eh?

        1. Mark 65 Silver badge


          It's what's known as market forces. You only have 1 bus company as there is little point there being more. No cable as it's not economically viable. 1 train company because they can't run in parallel on the same track - although in your case it seems they can't be arsed with the station at all.

          All that is wrong with the BT privatisation is the fact that they gifted them with the monopolised network. The local loop should have remained in the hands of the public/non-profit trust with equal access for all comers. However, as I have stated before, the sale price wouldn't have been as good.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      The young chavs get sent off to borstal, sorry Young Offenders Institutes, get a free XBOX or PS3 while in clinky and then get to take it home when their sentence is over!

  11. Witty username


    "vote us in again and we'll reward you with yet another tax!"

    Awesome election plan guys, couldnt have planned it better myself.

  12. cdtplug


    They need to get the speeds sorted for people in towns and cities before giving 50mb fibre connections to billy bob and his mates

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bloody typical

    It'll be like the "road fund" licence. Add 50p onto every phone bill, spend 5p of it on the network and the other 45p goes staight into the pot to pay for more useless self-justifying civil service wankers.

    Broadband is not a right, it's a choice. Like good beer. If you want it, pay for it and/or move somewhere where decent quality is available. By all means use central taxation to ensure that each local library is equipped with a decent connection, as a public service, but this "digital divide crap" is just, well, crap. What next, extra tax on petrol so everyone can have a bike?

    (and before you start, I'm 4km from an exchange, only get 2Mbit/s, and am 1 hour's walk from the nearest bar. I chose to live here, and I don't expect anyone else to pay for a network upgrade for me).

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      road fund license?

      Road fund license dosh has been chucked back into the general pot for many years now.

      Winston Churchill didn't want drivers feeling that the roads belonged to them as he was well aware, even then, that the money collected didn't cover the overall costs of road use.

      Bikes don't cause much wear on roads.

      Tax on petrol is a tax on a legal drug, the biggest addicts make the most noise when the price goes up rather than wean themselves off by using less.

      4km from the exchange - sounds like there are a few cable joints in the way for 2Mb/s (expect 1M loss per .5km normal cable run)

      1. Paul 4
        Thumb Down


        "Tax on petrol is a tax on a legal drug, the biggest addicts make the most noise when the price goes up rather than wean themselves off by using less."

        So what about those of us who have to drive to work? Its either that or a 2 hour bus trip each way for me. An no I don't own a big car. Like so many in this country I have to travel a long way for work (it is 1 hour on avrage for people living outside of the major citys) Its not a legal drug, but a nesesaty for me and many others. They keep taxing it not because they want people to use less but knowing that we have to keep driving.

        I so wish people would stop using this stupid stupid argument.

      2. Aldous


        motorbikes do less damage to roads then cars, normally get more mpg etc yet why do i pay more road tax for a 65mpg 500cc bike then someone in a polo bluemotion thing that weighs 3-4 times more

    2. Shady

      "Broadband is not a right, it's a choice"

      But not for long - the government wants everyone online in order to access it's digital services. Once that happens, all those people who work in town halls accepting over-the-counter payments for council tax bills can be retrained as smoking cessation outreach co-ordinators.

      Afterall, the public sector now accounts for 53% of our nations GDP. 53% and climbing.

  14. Just Thinking


    This seems a bit random - a tax on landlines to pay for fibre for villages. Why should people with landlines be any more responsible for connecting our six fingered friends to the internet than mobile users?

    You might as well put a tax on carrots to pay for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Good idea....Tax on carrots...

      ..after all us country folk grow our own....

      PS, many of us don't give a toss about 50mb broadband, we can walk about safe in the knowledge we won't get mugged / stabbed*, so we can find other things to do than sit the watching the iPlayer / tossing over Jordan pics

      *until the townies decend on our pubs, get pissed up and can't work out where the neaest kebab shop is (int there ain't one)

      1. Anonymous Coward

        All wondeful in the sticks...

        No Jordan or iPlayer, just dull monotony of another day with very little to do except drink, leading to the "countryside" having the highest rate of suicide in young men in the country.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Joined up thinking? Joined up networks?

    Right. Get rid of your silly historic preconceptions and start thinking joined up.

    Many homes (and/or businesses) currently have up to four or five separate competing overlapping bitstream-delivery mechanisms, each of which requires its own infrastructure and therefore each of which incurs extra costs, costs which would mostly vanish if we had a genuine single national bitstream-delivery infrastructure (in the same way as almost all of us already do for water, electricity, phone, and gas).

    Merge the bitstream-delivery infrastructures for phone, DSL broadband, cable broadband, terrestrial TV, cable TV and satellite TV. All they do is deliver bits from source to destination (and, if necessary, get some data back upstream too). Put them all onto one fibre to the premises (VDSL is just a silly filler in) with access points in regional centres as required.

    Make sure Emperor Murdoch is as far away from it as possible for commercial reasons, and also make sure that BTwholesale are as far away as possible for commercial and technical reasons.

    Once you've done that, let the "service providers" (that name is a joke if ever one was) and content providers (BBC, ITV, Sky, Arqiva, etc) have at it - *then* you can have competition if you insist.

    Obviously in an economy driven by the god of market forces and the suppliers' desire for multiplay lock-in there's no way that kind of customer/service oriented flexible delivery is ever going to allowed to happen; after all, markets never brought us mains water, mains gas, mains electricity, or a universally available phone service, and a proposal like this makes perfect sense but upsets ALL the incumbents equally (sadly including the small ones too), but you gotta have a dream occasionally.


    what's a phone line for tax purposes anyway?

    I have one line, and one bill, but two numbers (no it's not ISDN) How many lines is that? Some businesses still have ISDN30 and the like - how many "lines" and therefore how many 50p taxes will that be?

    1. Chris 22

      It'd true

      Nationalised Fibre to the home, even if sold off directly after it's done, would be a sensible option however I believe it comes under the general heading of socialism and we don't appear to have a socialist party to vote for

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      > genuine single national bitstream-delivery infrastructure (in the same way as almost all of us already do for water, electricity, phone, and gas).

      That's *4* services, all supplied in separate ducts by separate companies. At least three of those could be supplied in one pipe, by your argument. Surprised a government hasn't suggested it, would make a single 'service delivery tax' much easier to add.

      > after all, markets never brought us mains water, mains gas, mains electricity, or a universally available phone service,

      You need to brush up a bit on your history of technology. Electricity was supplied (local distribution network included) by competitive businesses since the days of Edison and Westinghouse, until it got nationalized. When telephones were invented they were offered to the GPO, who declined on the basis that they would never catch on. Only when market forces proved that it was wanted did governments step in to nationalize it, and service went to pot (there's a POTS joke there somewhere). Those who whine about today's telecomms situation obviously don't remember the days of the monopolistic under-investing GPO with party lines. As for mains gas there are many places (like NI for instance) who still wouldn't have it were it not for private industry.

      In my case, as a non-townie, my gas is in a tank, my water comes from a locally-managed spring-fed reservoir, my drains end up in a septic tank. I have mains electricty only because *I* paid to have the network extended to my house.

  16. 0laf Silver badge


    Bet they put the tax on the bill before VAT so they get 17.5% on that too. Just like with fuel duty.

    Tax the line then take tax on the tax.

    Cucking Funts!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Scrumpy for Broadband?

    A few more pence on Cider duty should sort this. Then the tax will be targetted directly at those who will benefit from rural broadband.

    1. dogged

      top plan

      next you can suggest a curry tax to provide broadband to Indian people.

      But you don't have the balls for that, do you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've only seen black swans, therefore etc..

        Possibly because it's not only Indians that eat curry. Considering what we did to their continent, I think it's jolly nice of them to even talk to us let alone allowing us to benefit from have their recipes and cooking skills.

        1. dogged

          by the same token

          not everyone who drinks cider lives in the country. Especially if you're swilling Magners apple juice with ice in it.

          You just made a sweeping, discriminatory and small-minded comment is all, so I thought I'd show you exactly what it was, stripped of your urban mindset.

  18. Shady

    Roadtax mk2

    This will pay for rural broadband in exactly the same manner that roadtax pays for the upkeep of our roads.

    1. Anthony Cartmell

      Vehicle Excise Duty!

      Road tax doesn't exist. VED is a tax on a luxury, and goes into general taxation just like tax on alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Only the owner of a vehicle pays VED, not each driver, and it's not based on how much you drive.

      The Road Fund Licence was abolished decades ago, and it only ever paid for national "trunk" roads anyway. Non-motorway roads are funded from general taxation at the local authority level: roughly a third from business rates, a third from central government, and a third from council tax payers. We all pay for public roads, even those who don't have driving licenses!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        A car is a luxury is it? So why does the car tax also have to be paid on work vehicles? All those vans and lorries that keep the country functioning? They aren't a "luxury" by any definition of the word.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Shady vs VED

        Anthony Cartmell "Road tax doesn't exist. VED is a tax on a luxury, and goes into general taxation just like tax on alcohol, cigarettes, etc."

        I think this was the point Shady was trying to make...

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Almost right...

        ...a) a trunk road is not a Motorway, it's an "A" road.


        "We all pay for public roads, even those who don't have driving licenses!"

        Yes and us car drivers pay for trains and buses we DON'T use. So get over yourself.

        Public Transport cost goverment money

        Private transport makes goverment money.

      4. Anonymous Coward


        > We all pay for public roads, even those who don't have driving licenses!

        Bollocks. By the time you take VED, VAT, fuel duty, and the rest, motorists pay the treasury approx 10x what is spent on the road infrastructure in the UK each year. It's motorists who subsidise all the rest of you.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly matters...

    If anyone thinks the cash from this tax is going to go anywhere near solving rural broadband problems, they're on another planet. Just another New Labour backdoor tax, which the Tories will complain about but apply just as enthusiastically when they get back in. We're not being screwed to support rural communities - we're just being screwed - period.

  20. blackworx


    If I want fibre to my house, the best thing to do is move to Fuckbucknaewhere and wait?

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's only so...

    ....they can keep tabs on people in the countryside as well as the cities...

    they don't like people being off the `grid`....

    and what better way than getting us lot to pay for it.

    Who gives a crap if people in the countryside don't have broadband?? Move to a city?! Isn't the whole point of being in the coutryside that you don't want to live in the busy hectic modern world?

    But I'm sure the governbent are doing it out of love and genuine concern about people not having internet access.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BT's expansion to the sticks.

      Nathan, this is just so so wrong, technically. There is no "gain" on an ADSL line, and the basic ADSL technology (standards and kit) have remained basically unchanged for ten years or more. If anything changed to allow DSL to be available further out from exchanges, it was that BT finally decided to stop using arbitrary rules based on often-incorrect information to decide whether or not someone can order broadband.


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