Skip Navigation


The Times claims broadband levy scope widened
Thursday 26 November 2009 11:05:40 by Andrew Ferguson

It is impossible to know precisely what is happening with the broadband levy or even, as it is being called by Ministers now, the Broadband Tax. The oddity in the naming is that its proper name should be a 'a telephone line tax to fund a better broadband network.' If it was a pure broadband tax it would be levied against just broadband services.

The Times leads with a headline of 'Broadband levy may be trebled for homes with multiple lines'. Hardly headline grabbing stuff as we believed from the time the Digital Britain report was released that the tax was to be levied on a per telephone line basis, rather than a per household basis. Therefore those with 2 lines will pay £1 a month, and those with half a dozen, £3 a month. The data suggesting 1.7 million homes have 3 or more lines seems a little unusual as one of the big advantages of ADSL is that you do not need a dedicated telephone line for it so home owners still retaining a second or third line for Internet access are already wasting monthly line rental of around £10 to £12 a month (unless they have multiple broadband lines). The most likely answer is that these dedicated lines are actually rented by and paid for by businesses for home workers where a firm wants to give employees broadband, but wants them to only use it for business purposes.

On the issue of Virgin Media telephone lines, some reporters and even the odd Minister or two thought these were immune as they were fibre optic based, however, they have always been intended to be included in the levy. The wording in the Digital Britain report was such that it covered all metallic telephone lines, and while Virgin Media makes great use of fibre-optic in its advertising, the reality is that the telephone line to the home is supplied over a twisted pair copper cable running alongside the metal co-ax cable, and thus will be subject to the tax. Those Virgin Media customers who will not have to pay the tax are those taking a broadband and/or TV package but not a telephone line service.

What needs clarifying rapidly by the people responsible for the Finance Bill is the latest leak from the Treasury reported by The Times, that VAT will be levied on top of the tax, thus increasing the cost by some 17.5% (assuming VAT returns to this level when the tax starts). We know that low income groups will have various exemptions applied, which is welcome, but at a time when the government is spending a few million to encourage Internet participation, many of these people will be annoyed to find their bills going up to pay for something that at this time they have no interest in.

Comments

Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
As I've said before, fed up with the whining. £10/net connection/year (pro rata for shorter connections), no more complaints about fairness, done.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"at a time when the government is spending a few million to encourage Internet participation, many of these people will be annoyed to find their bills going up to pay for something that at this time they have no interest in."
Not only that but even if we all have an interest why should some of us end up paying extra and never see a benefit, its bad enough some areas will get BT based FTTC years before others, let alone some people having to pay and either never see an improvement or have to wait CLOSE to another decade
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Bad enough? Then there needs to be a massive investment of taxpayer money to enable exchanges and upgrade cabinets. Simple!

But you don't like that either. So in the end you support doing nothing...
Posted by EnglishRob over 7 years ago
Well looks like I'll have to pay it. If I dropped the phone line and kept the Virgin broadband I have and went for a VoIP line I'd end up paying more.
Posted by cjbell68 over 7 years ago
Why didn't they just stealth tax it, isn't that the normal way of raising additional revenues?
Posted by mishminx over 7 years ago
Desperation means far too many people are willing to accept anything no batter how badly flawed. Rabid BT fans aside of course.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Quite right, the broadband in this country very desperately needs broadband funding even in this hamhanded way after decades of piling duties and restrictions - but no meaningful funding - onto BT.

Rabid BT fans? Oh yea, Carpet. *snerk*
Posted by Aqualung over 7 years ago
Once introduced this tax will be used in many different ways than what it was intended for.

I can see it escalating into a full blown broadband licence in years to come at much higher levels than this.Will it benefit us end users ??? i doubt it somehow all wind and waffle per usual.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
QUOTE"Bad enough? Then there needs to be a massive investment of taxpayer money to enable exchanges and upgrade cabinets. Simple!

But you don't like that either. So in the end you support doing nothing... "

Total rubbish if every customer gave the likes of BT and Virgin an extra £100 per month there would still be some that suffer slower speed and poor service.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
BT, Virgin and others target areas where uptake of services will be its best, (nothing wrong with that persay its business). Virgin as an example are not about to dig a million mile trench out to the country no matter how much money you give them, just to offer their services to say a small village of 100 people. Providers would be much happy just pocketing the extra wads of cash or spend smaller amounts in areas already well served to offer new bells and whistle services.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
If its only about money how come the so called (and misread by many) promise of 2Mb is nothing of the sort? Being a company that provides Internet infrastructure in many ways is no different to other business... You go after the prime spots targetting the mainstream. You dont waste money trying to get the odd few extra customers in the middle of nowhere, thats why there isnt a dozen petrol stations in a tiny village or every single competing supermarket.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Enough of this frankly total and utter carp, that us all giving a few pence extra will mean everyone get equal braodband services in this country. No matter how much i or anyone coughs up there are always going to be haves and have nots.
Posted by Mikebear over 7 years ago
Charge according to how many GB are used.
That is the equitable way to pay for a service.
Broadband should be no different to electricity,gas,petrol or water.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
@Mikebear:As long as you can get products where charge only kicks in above a certain level and is suspended overnight I would agree.

One of the things that held the Web back in the early days was having to watch the minutes pass. It's not quite as bad with data but a lot of people prefer the security of a fixed monthly fee. Dropping the charge overnight would redistribute the load a bit better.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Charge according to how many GB are used.
That is the equitable way to pay for a service.
Broadband should be no different to electricity,gas,petrol or water."
Doesnt work in all cases, someone with say a 20Mb connection will be able to grab say 1Gb of data in a lot lesser time than someone stuck on 512k, in some reality the person with the 20Mb connection is affecting other users of that ISPs service less than the person with the 512k connection, so why should they both pay the same charge??
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Of course the opposite can be true also, but either way you look at it, it is not treating people equal. As for the Gas, Petrol and Water thing... I dont use petrol and my water is NOT metered, some also dont even use or have access to Gas services so that compare doesnt work. (I dont see me having to foot the bill to get Gas into areas that do not have it) Some have their water metered, some dont, its another SORT OF have and have not situation, just like broadband always will be.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Well of course Carpet, but you've made it plain you support no extension of service unless it's for all rather than any sensible plan...

BT have done an awful lot to bring broadband to all and your opposition to their plans would be amusing if it wasn't so poor.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
@Carpetburn:"I dont see me having to foot the bill to get Gas into areas that do not have it" but you are likely paying the same amount per unit as everyone else in your area. That makes it highly likely that you are subsidising someone whose property is further from the gas main than yours.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 7 years ago
Does this Dawn woman never stop moaning?!?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
@Carpetburn:"I dont see me having to foot the bill to get Gas into areas that do not have it" but you are likely paying the same amount per unit as everyone else in your area. That makes it highly likely that you are subsidising someone whose property is further from the gas main than yours.

When i said BILL i meant as in government legislation not what i pay the gas company.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
At the end of the day the problem comes back to the government.

With a monopoly AND tight regulations, BT can't do much without public investment.

Private companies like in the US should have their own areas.

Now some may say that these providers usually have poor service, but customers need to start voting with their feet. Even if it means no internet at all to make a point to a bad provider, community needs to stick together.

Also providers will be more likely to expand into other areas as they know they will have a monopoly on services.
Posted by Foggy_UK over 7 years ago
This Broadband TAX should take Line lenght and Market into account, so that a customer on the door step of a LLU exchange pays the full tax, while the customer in the middle of nowhere pays next to nothing. This would reflex the service provided down the line, and a only by investing in shorter lines and more LLU would the TAX go up. FTTC would count as a short line.
Posted by meldrew over 7 years ago
A tax is described as hypothecated if the money raised is used for the purpose intended. Road Fund Tax anyone? This broadband tax is just the same as a Climate Change levy. Goes stright to the government and won't do anyone any good.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
wirelesspacman - Hint: Not female. Also, Hint: I'm the one arguing for action, not against it.

otester - You realise our average broadband speed, despite wider % coverage, is higher than the US? No, the answer is some government investment not crippling the future of the UK network by tying people to specific ISP's.

And no, "no internet" is not viable for most people. Plenty of my American friends pay large amounts for sub-par services...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quoteA tax is described as hypothecated if the money raised is used for the purpose intended. Road Fund Tax anyone? This broadband tax is just the same as a Climate Change levy. Goes stright to the government and won't do anyone any good."

One of the few times i agree with you entirely meldrew :)
Posted by xaghra67 over 7 years ago
Ah so most think this tax will be a good idea.Yet I believe as many have done where I live,will do away with the landline and use mobile phones only.Also will the outcome be as with road tax the Covernment rake in the money,but it is not used for the purpose intended. Sowe will still be as we are now,as we are with the lack of mains gas,for instance,my son lives in a small village,a mile from the gas mains,but will have to pay 8k to be connected,so has to use oil and there are many villages like this,so will broadband be any different. I think not.
Posted by authoriseduser545 over 7 years ago
Does this "second line tax" apply to VOIP lines??? For example, I have BT Broadband with the "Home Hub" and the "Home Hub Phone" which gives me a second 0870-xxxxxxxx number. Will I be counted as having one line or two? If it is two, then I will end up calling BT and telling them to cancel the VOIP line - I never use it (it's not free during the day, and the quality if subpar). Thanks in advance to anybody that knows.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Ah so most think this tax will be a good idea."

Certainly not and unless im wrong thats not the impression i got from meldrew either.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@Dawn

The US is at fault, not the type of system itself.

One company can suffice.

If the company does not deliver/too expensive/poor speed/poor service. People boycott until it changes. Simple. French style.
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
Has every one forgot that the now private company British telecom used to bew a publicly owned body, until Thatcher privatized it,Truth being bt has been quite happily taking everyones money for years without making significant investments in the broadband area,so now all of a sudden they wake up and want to change this 20 years too late, we have to pay for it,i don't think so, bt should be paying for it and our wonderful corrupt government
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
tommy - And the PTO were *shite*. BT has done far, far better. In many cases BT were not *allowed* to invest, as well.

otester - No, the low level of competition in US broadband has been directly linked to the lack of speed of innovation. Of course, the UK goes too far the other way by making BT actively subsidise LLU...

And you're suggesting people cut themselves off from the internet again. This plain isn't *practical*.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
tommy45 - Didn't BT put broadband into nearly every exchange?

You're right, no significant investments.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@Dawn

This isn't down to lack competition, it's down to the current financial system, the richer people are, the more goods they can buy, hence the more successful people are.

Also regarding people leaving even in a monopoly area, if people really want change, they need to act or stfu and quit moaning.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
No, it's just NOT VIABLE. You need broadband for too many things these days. You're simply acting the ass and pretending we're in the 90's still.

No, unbundling good, just make sure they pay their way unlike in the UK.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@Dawn

No, people are just too lazy, if a whole area covered by one ISP threaten to cancel, action would be taken, so basically actually cancelling is kind of unlikely.

Unbundled can only truly work under a socialist system, then that relies on the competency of the government, which in this case is nil.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
@CB:"When i said BILL i meant as in government legislation not what i pay the gas company" really? That's a strange turn of phrase you have there then.

Did you mean that you didn't want to foot the bill for the bill?

:)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
^^^ I dont see what was strange my whole post was about legislation.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
otester - You're in la-la land. People won't voluntarily cut themselves off (ooh threats. ISP will ignore you quite nicely...), and it's been proven in country after country that unbundling increases service speeds and quality.

Your conspiracy theories about socalism...um...have you sought professional help for the paranoia?
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@Dawn

So an ISP is willing to ignore a large amount of its customers?

Many Entanet vISP's lost ~30%+ of their customer base due to Entanets 21CN screw up, they all scrambled overboard to new suppliers as quickly as possible.

So if you have an ISP that covers an area that keeps screwing customers and at least 50% threaten cancellation, they WILL do something if they want to keep their business afloat.

And if people won't voluntarily cut themselves off to prove a point then they deserve all they get.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
Also socialism does work under the right circumstances. This regime would fail regardless of model as it purely driven by greed (ie: expenses scandal).
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
otester - No, ISP's are quite willing to ignore threats which won't be carried out. The whole point is that with Enta, there *were* available alternatives for people to move to, which you want to block.

If there is no alternative, people are stuck, and the threats to disconnect *won't happen*.

Please, demonstrate your logic by disconnecting yourself to protest LLU and socalism :)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
I agree with Dawn for one of the few times.... Making idle threats you will leave an ISP wont in anyway make theem improve a service.... Far too many shout they think their service is terrible and dont leave it, theres a guy in ukonlines forums been complaining about his IPstream based service from ukonline for months, even claimed he had a MAC.... Guess what hes still with them LOL..... Some will indeed make threats and leave a service (ive ditched more than a few ISPs) many people that whinge though are nothing but hot air.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@Dawn

I meant the threat would be carried out, but another idea is what's happening in South Yorkshire.

An open network, run by a company that isn't an ISP. This could work.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.