back to article won't drop 50p high speed broadband tax plans - yet

The government is still mulling the possibility of bringing in a 50p a month stealth tax on fixed phone lines to fund next-gen broadband, despite Treasury minister Stephen Timms hinting that those plans could be shelved during election year. “remains committed to the timetable for introducing the 50p levy on fixed lines …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    ...won't be levied before the Election...looks like it won't be levied for at least anothr 5 or 6 years then...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise really.

    If any .gov budget is to go by, previous experience will tell, firstly it'll rise to 75p with regular increases on a monthly timescale, that by completion will work out at £500 month.

    Not even an accounting error in sight, just the usual overbudget gumf, contractors disputes and of course the ever present ogre of inflation (even in a deflationary cycle) and not forgetting the five year time delay just to get to pre-phase 1 planning, we're still thinking about how much to fleece the government for this and line our own pockets with.

    I say lets get the Olympics out the way first, and let the .gov predicted profits from that fund this latest attempt to scam the public.

  3. Ian 11

    Timms = Only smart person in Labour?

    "However, as it will be an election year Timms, who recently replaced Lord Carter - author of the Digital Britain report - told journalists that a short bill listing popular measures was more likely to be pushed through ahead of UK voters going to the polls."

    Yeah okay Timms but have you told Mandelson about that? he doesn't seem aware as he's currently working to push through the most unpopular parts of all after his dinner data with a movie industry boss.

  4. Jimmy Floyd


    £6 / year to pay for rural broadband? Good grief, I hope this doesn't become an election issue. Not when every Briton owes £n,000 via the national debt (insert whatever value you like into n).

  5. Andy ORourke
    Paris Hilton

    I wouldnt mind too much

    IF "they" could guarantee that my £6.00 would go to building FIBRE TO THE HOME and NOTHING ELSE and that once the infrastructure was built the tax STOPPED.

    I would also like:

    my Up to 8 meg connection to get 8 meg.

    my "unlimited" downloads to be unlimited by either speed or cap

    world peace and an end to starvation

    a cure for cancer and AIDS

    to be married to Paris

    Still, a chap can dream can't he?

  6. Andy C

    Hey Sherlock...

    "It was suggested that such a move might be considered unpopular in a general election year."

    No S%!t...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Surely it is the job of the service providers to invest in their own technology and ensure they are still at the forefront of the market as it evolves? What have they been doing with their profits over the last 10 years? Why should the general public have to bail them out in the form of a stealth tax now for no extra benefit?

  8. Dave Ross

    Tory promises...

    "The Tories are widely expected to oppose the 50p broadband levy being contained in the finance bill. So should they be elected to government next year, the £6 a year tax on fixed phone lines could indeed be ditched."

    That would require a political party to actually enact a manifesto promise that would loose them money, something pretty much unheard of in politics...

  9. Steve K Silver badge

    What's so important about next-gen broadband?

    Why is next-gen broadband is considered so important?

    Email and interaction with suppliers of goods & services can be achieved on a reliable connection of 2Mbps or lower.

    High-speed broadband is only of interest to ISP's/Telcos and digital content providers/the media, who are a relatively small part of the economy.

    Where is the economic benefit of this investment? Reliability and reach I can understand -speed for its own sake I can't.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Why is next-gen broadband is considered so important?

    Email and interaction with suppliers of goods & services can be achieved on a reliable connection of 2Mbps or lower."

    Mmm. That's what people were saying 8 years ago on their dial up 56k connections.

    And here's a practical example of 'interaction of goods and services' - I can send a 10meg PDF file to a printer through email, around 100 megs on FTP (after a long wait) and anything higher goes on CD and DVD.

    Next gen broadband would enable our industry to dispense with this problem. Not all industry communication is text emails.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve K

    Quite simple really...

    We (the gov) would like you (the plebs), to fund a nice new infrastructure, then you can use it, of course you will have to pay to use it, and of course we get the VAT.

    Now, so to make you don't feel its another boring insidious stealth tax, we tell you its for the good of the country, makes you feel so proud to be digging into your pockets.

  12. UkForest

    Hold On...

    Why not give me what I already pay for? 8Mb advertised = 2.5Mb delivered!

  13. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!

    We pay for it we own it!

    I want that assurance, this is public funding, for a public network right?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Rent this space from 50p per month!

    I moved house to find a place that had broadband options. If broadband is so important can't the denizens of rural England move to a more broadband friendly area.

    It's a question of priorities. Look fields full of waving corn/cows/sheep etc or download stuff slightly faster. I don't see why I should have to pay for your broadband!

    Beer, because it help put the flames out.

  15. Matt 88

    Here's your 50p tax right here!

    I use Virgin media at home. The only reason that I even have a landline on may package is that for the £5 a month I pay for the phone service I get a £6 a month reduction in my total bill for having TV, Broadband and Phone, so overall I pay £1 less per month.

    I don't even have the wiring for the phone in my house, or know what the number is.

    If the government are going to put a 50p per month surcharge on the phone line, then my saving goes down to just 50p per month, so just to spite them, I will drop my phone package.

    Bad government! No 50p for you! Instead it goes to Richard Branson who will spend it on his island retreat. Or space planes. Or balloons. Or whores.

  16. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Wait ...

    Didn't the government have some previous scheme to provide people with free computers or such like ? What happened to that ?

    While I'm all in favour of paying taxes for the common good, I fail to see what's so special about broadband or why only certain people should be taxed to fund it and I can think of better things to spend £150m on.

    If the governement really wants the money, maybe it should consider getting out of Iraq / Afghanistan a day or two early.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    If you believe this you'll believe anything

    And British government has a record of using targeted levies to actually do what's advertised ??


    road fund license

    national insurance


    perhaps one might have some sympathy if they did a decent job of anything let alone IT related stuff - give 'em the money and what do the boobs do with it - enrich their cronies and build duck houses - the contibutors to the scheme always sees SFA.

    nope - this would just as easily have been done by changing the tax regime on infrastructure capex - thieving no good asswipes

  18. Anonymous Coward

    If it meant FTTH for all of the UK

    And ISPs being forced to provide at least, say, 75% of their advertised speed all the time and to be unlimited when they say they're unlimited then yes, I wholly support the extra £6 a year.

    Saying that, they're trying to make an election issue out of the price of one large Burger King a year when they've driven us each out of thousands of times more money- and while providing pretty poor service for the majority of us. I mean in taxes someone on a just above average £25,000 pays over £4100 in income tax, and another £3600 in VAT on top of that (assuming all other purchases are VAT-applicable). Add on £1800 in council tax, £150 in road tax, something like £1300 in fuel duty (£1per litre, 12000 miles a year, 30mpg, march 2009 fuel duty), about £4500 in NI. There's probably more to add but this is just a rant so I'm not going to look it up.

    That means each year said £25,000 person pays over half their salary to the gov't / council. For which they get a thieving bunch of twunts.

    Whatever they decide, £6 per year is not something to make or withhold a vote over.

  19. Stu_The_Jock

    Speed vs reliability

    Over in Norway it's the Telcos that put up the mnoney to invest. Sure our fibre to home network is mainy in "suburban" areas but they are rolling it out into more areas all the time.

    They offer an entry level of 10Mbit up AND down speeds, and any time I've tested it I've never got under 83% of that, but I sometimes thing the issue was the link from their server to the speed test server, NOT my link to the internet.

    Do they complain if you run the link at close to 10Mbit solid for a week ? NO, because there are no "restrictive" fair use policies on the contract.

    Downsides ? Well it's Not CHEAP, but then, nothing really is here. And you CANNOT get the password for the router they supply where te fibre comes in, presumably because it would allow you to do more than just config the router itself, but main router functions like port forwarding and Wifi setup are done via their web portal.

    Is it up to the UK Gov't to impose a fee on EVERY phone line to implement the infrastructure ? NO however as BT are legally obliged to provide a certain coverage of payphones, maybe they should also be legally obliged to offer a certain minimum speed of internet nationally. If they lay the backbone they can charge the other operators that pay them via the local loop unbundling schemes.

    Over the last few years ADSL bundle prices have been carved down with competition at the expense of investment and service, maybe it's time the people realised that "You get what you pay for!" If you want cheap broadband, don't complain it's restrictive. Same as if you want a cheap car, don't expect the performance and luxury of a Rolls

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stealing 50p a month

    and giving it to BT doesn't seem very stealthy?

  21. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    Dear politicians. Please leave us alone.

    No politician is ever going to turn down an opportunity to impose a new tax or to meddle in things they really don't understand.

    I really just wish the politicos would stop trying to micromanage this sort of thing. Hell, *I* live in somewhere seriously-rural (my wired connectivity comes across the valley on wooden poles; same goes for my electricity) but I don't *need* anything faster than what this gives me.

  22. Paul Delaney

    Mission Creep

    According to Ofcom research forty two per cent of adults without the internet at home said the main reason was down to lack of interest or need. The self-excluded tend to be older and retired and 61 per cent have never used a computer.

    So they'll be charged for something they neither want nor need?

    Ah but wait until they discover what digital Britain is really about - to provide more "services" online, "services" like the post office for instance...

    It's no good complaining when we close your post office Mr & Mrs Oldperson because we've made sure that you do have access to fast broadband instead. It may have been the hub of your community and the only chance you got to talk to anyone else and your life may seem meaningless now, but don't forget that we've ensured that you can legally get a friend to help you top yourself...

  23. Dave Bell

    Nice, but...

    When has a tax ever been just used for its supposed purpose? It's not a big amount, and it could do some good if it was used as claimed.

    But I don't trust the bastards.

    BT could just charge everyone an extra 50p per month and we'd have the same effect. They still provide the physical lines. They're the people who will be doing most of the work. But I don't trust them either.

    It's less than they're charging for paper billing. And how long before nobody has a utility bill to prove where they live?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    we 'the electorate' are treated like mushrooms

    So in election year they wont push this, then when they stop listening for the next 5 years they do what they like..

    This is pretty much admitting they treat the electorate in total contempt .. get us elected on false promises then we'll do what we like and you cannot do anything about it.

    One day (in my dreams) government (any) will realise that you cannot tax tax tax, without it become a diminishing return. UK has more stealth and non-stealth taxes than any other country and those of us with the flexibility to get out will be doing so.. and taking our skills with us.

    Sorry Gordon and Mandy, but yet another 40% tax payer (me) is looking at other countries who appreciate my tax funding rather than milking it like a cow.. its not just big business who relocate based on your idiot decisions, and you'd be surprised how welcoming some of our European neighbours are!!!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hate to quote the bitch

    but isn't this a case of Labour running out of other people's money?

  26. Tezfair
    Thumb Up

    maybe its time to ditch landlines

    Just about everyone has a mobile and the rental costs for a phone thats underused is quite high already. maybe its time to save even more and go completely mobile.

    Save 50p? cool we could save close to £15 / month, more if I ditch home ADSL and use mobile broadband.

    yes, it would be slower, but speed at my age isn't important.

  27. dek

    Baaaa Baaaaa

    "Timms... told journalists that a short bill listing popular measures was more likely to be pushed through ahead of UK voters going to the polls.

    Yey, coz we sheep are so dumb and with such short memories that if you give us a sweetie today we'll forget that you are promising to f**k us tomorrow. The only thing worse than Nu Labour (aka Fascist F**k-wits) are the idiots that vote for them.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Another way to Steal your money

    There is a 0.000000 percent chance that that 50p a month will go to anything other than the goverments own pockets to be spent on duck ponds and missiles.

    Whats the betting that most MPs have a nice country home that lacks high speed broadband?

    What happend to democracy? If you live in the country, Tough! Pay the money your self or move to some run down binge drinking city like the rest of us.

    Im so sick of all these TAXs, the goverment just doesnt listen,















  29. Anonymous Coward


    There's a lot of talk on here about the Broadband network being the responsibility of the telco (BT) to maintain and develop. However, I don't agree with this. If BT were to invest in a new network, they would be forced by Ofcom to open up the networks to other providers.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With the money they've wasted on CCTV cameras...

    they could install "next gen" broadband 5 times over.

  31. kwikbreaks


    I don't know how many fixed lines there are but let's say for sake of argument there are 50m. This tax would then raise £300m a year. Sounds a lot until you consider that FTTC across the whole of the UK is likely to cost £30Bn so it would take 100years of this tax to pay for it.

    Considering all the other things wrong with this country I can't really see that FTTC is an essential service right now. Sadly this means we may all have to wait an extra hour or so for our hookey HD porn downloads to complete.

  32. Steve K Silver badge

    AC @16:04


    I'm aware of the "Who needs more than 640K RAM/56Kbps modem" side of things, but realistically the current 512kbps/2Mbps services achieved are more than adequate to interact with most businesses (apart from digital media provision)

    My point is that it's not about content creation (whether pre-print or digital media). Investing for this small part of the economy that cares about high-speed is an asymmetric levy.

    Physical goods and services don't care how fast the broadband connection is (assuming that it's fast/reliable enough to complete transactions), and that's the bulk of the economy.

    This sort of investment - if it's not just posturing or mere cant - needs to show an economic return, and that will not magically come from the provision of high-speed proadband.


  33. Nigel R

    expect a 50p subsidy at phase 2 (do they ever think anything through)

    Looks like this 50p tax will push us even faster towards the US idea of why bother with fixed lines anyway. It is predicted to trash business models that depend on cheap reliable fixed line infrastructure.

    Article - US losing 700,000 fixed lines per annum:

    Expect a 50p fixed line subsidy to be introduced at phase 2 to protect this remnant of the UK infrastructure!

  34. M7S

    I'm neutral about the tax at present, but

    I have a couple of points that I think need to be considered, some about regional bias and one about whether or not we have missed the point (as a nation) on what technology to get.

    Lots of posters (perhaps the more metropolitan of you) suggest that people in rural areas should move to where the broadband is better if they want it. I can see some merit in this but someone still needs to produce your food (unless London can grow all it needs on the tops of the tower blocks), should they be denied decent broadband and a modern standard of living? Also if everyone DID do this (just like imagining everyone on a particular day obeying government exhortations to use public transport), how hard might some of you find it to keep affording your sub/urban residences as demand rises. Its a market (of sorts) after all.

    Some utilities and public services need to be available as far as possible on a national basis. We dont get a discount on our power living near to power stations (not normally found in city centres, can we put the nukes in Islington? No, didn't think so) due to the lower cost of local transmission. Also we dont suggest that you should pay more for your water (leaving differences in waste disposal costs etc aside) just because you live nowhere near natural sources of anything still safe to drink. Broadband is now one such utility, otherwise you could also argue that electricity could be done away with and we all return to solid fuel fired homes. (Sorry, just reminded myself of the looming power generation capacity issue in the UK)

    There was a recent suggestion by an engineer that the government stop all the spending on dubious projects like DAB, Freeview etc and spend all the money instead on the national cost of FTTC or better, giving the nation a fixed digital infrastrure like South Korea (think, if the fibre is good enough, for future upgrades only the switching boxes need to be changed as technology progresses) so everyone can get their digital services via the net and we dont all have to change the domestic kit that is shortly to become redundant. Perhaps we should explore this more although of course its almost certainly too late here in the UK for TV services, but we might stop the next wave of spending on the wrong kind of shiny kit. The only losers might be those wanting mobile TV, but it doesnt seem to be that much in demand here anyway.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some thoughts

    While not a fan, the present Government is little different in any significant respect from the one we'll probably get next. The State always tries to increase its power and wealth - It is a natural "state" for a bully. The state - not the tories or nulabour.

    Would this 50p tax apply to all fixed phone lines? Business, NHS, Local government, BT call boxes as well as domestic consumers? I think the first group may have a bit to say even if the last group can't.

  36. AndrueC Silver badge

    Profit WTF is that?

    @Seriously:They don't make much money on Broadband. Most of the providers run it at a loss to make up bundles.

    Blame Ofcom. Even the government is starting to:

  37. Tim Williams 2
    Gates Horns

    Why ?

    They managed to build all the previous generations of broadband without this tax. What has changed that makes it necessary now ?

  38. Adam 10

    All fixed phone lines?

    What about Virgin Media? I don't have a BT phoneline as the LLU forces BT to charge nearly £200 to plug me in at the exchange. I hope they don't try to tax me to upgrade the BT network that I don't have access to!

    What next? They'll start using Road Tax to pay for things other than roads... er... wait a minute.

  39. Ian 27


    I'm confused.

    Is Broadband now considered an essential? - is this why I'm going to be taxed 50p so that everyone can get it?

    If so, why am I paying VAT on it, if it's no longer a luxury good?

  40. Dr Nick

    Brick-up Your Windows

    In the US, 700,000 customers are abandoning their landlines every month. The broadband/landline scenario is slightly different here in the UK than in the States. However, if the UK Government introduce a landline tax, individuals and businesses will find ways of ditching their landlines in the long-term. Not 'daylight robbery', just 'a highspeed broad(tax)band'!

    Dr Nick Hayter, rpduklimited, Essex.

  41. Steve Browne

    Hypothecated levies are wrong

    I have a basic view that it is users of a service that ought to pay for it. If BT wish to enhance their network to provide new services, that is a matter for BT, it is their shareholders who will benefit and it is their shareholders who should stump up the cash.

    Customers should not be forced to pay for services they do not use.

    Perhaps it ought to be more correctly placed as a monthly charge against ISP accounts,then only those who might benefit will be forced to pay for it.

    If it is a national investment for the "good of the country" then it ought to be funded from tax, which is what tax is all about and not just for funding duck houses in MP's ornamental lakes.

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