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New report proposes dropping the 50p broadband tax
Thursday 14 January 2010 12:31:38 by John Hunt

A new report titled Changing the Channel, authored by Mark Oliver, former head of strategy at the BBC, is proposing to drop the 50p broadband tax. The extensive report looks at the structure of public service broadcasting in the UK, particularly with relation to reforming the BBC to better serve viewers and their access to public service broadcasting content, as well as touching on the Digital Britain broadband recommendations.

The report contains two recommendations for broadband. The first addresses the universal service commitment (USC) which aims to deliver at least 2 Mbps broadband nationwide. The current plan for funding for this is from the Digital Switchover surplus, a pot of money that was put aside to aid in the migration from analogue to digital television services. Instead, Oliver suggests this money should be put toward content and services rather than content delivery, and general taxation funds should be used to achieve the 2 Mbps commitment.

The second broadband recommendation is to scrap the 50p a month tax on telephone lines which is aimed at raising money to fund next-generation broadband services to areas where the market feels it cannot succeed. Instead the recommendation is, in the medium term, to roll out high-speed broadband services to community hubs at public libraries, community centres and post offices at a potential saving of around £3.2bn. A longer term solution would be to encourage providers such as BT and Virgin to share infrastructure in urban areas such that funding that would have gone into duplication can instead be directed to getting rural areas online.

Whilst the longer-term part of this is an interesting idea, it would be unlikely to ever go ahead. BT have invested significantly in the project to roll out fibre to the cabinet and home which is already under way. Dropping the roll out of next-generation broadband in the medium term to rural areas would just help increase inequality in services available around the country. It seems to miss the main benefits of deploying next-generation services, many of which are based around video content and the ability to provide new useful services. The report claims that next-generation broadband could isolate elderly people, but equally, it may help them interact with friends and family more easily using video calling type services. It would also introduce the ability to get medical consultations from their GP without having to take the trip to the surgery, something that can be challenging and detrimental if you are unwell.


Posted by paulbeattie87 over 7 years ago
We're still going ahead with the paltry 2mbps USO? Good to see we are being ambitious. 2mbps in 2012 will be nothing, that said most parts of the country will still be running WBC which is at max 24mbps.
Posted by Matchstick over 7 years ago
I suspect many areas of the country will still be dreaming of WBC in 2012...
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
Longer term they want VM+BT to share? The rollout has already started hasn't it? Shouldn't that have been the plan right from the word go? Force VM to provide a wholesale package and prevent BT from upgrading areas that VM covers.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
It says - In the longer term the main network providers (BT and Virgin Media) might be encouraged to roll out high speed broadband to the whole of the UK by allowing the sharing of current infrastructure in the major conurbations (with significant cost savings) in return for an obligation to roll out new infrastructure to the rest of the UK.

Anybody understand what they mean?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
2Mb for all is never going to happen, the USO/USC (whatever name they want to tag) never exactly promised it either.... It was always termed with things like "UPTO"....
See first 2 lines from this
Posted by jrawle over 7 years ago
Broadband to "community hubs" instead of next-gen to the home? Who are they kidding? The whole point of next-gen broadband is to deliver services such as video on demand. Who wants to sit in the Post Office to watch a film? There may be a place for broadband in community centres, but that's not what this is about.

Also, BT and Virgin to share? So what about competition?

But then this report is just the author's opinion, written for a think tank, so probably carries little weight.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
A 2MBit USO is fully in line with other country's in Europe at this time. Ofc people won't get that get in the way of a good whine.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"A 2MBit USO is fully in line with other country's in Europe at this time. Ofc people won't get that get in the way of a good whine."

Nobody is whining, most statements thus far have been factual or sensible opinion, stop trolling for a response.
Oh and i ask poliely can you Please point to any details about this "2Mbit USO" for other European countries.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Lol! No, it's on this very site again. What's lacking is the mechanism the other countries have, which is that the USO will increase over the next decade or so...

And no whining.. lolol
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Ill ask again nicely, for a link or evidence to your statement "A 2MBit USO is fully in line with other country's in Europe at this time."
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Please also point out who was whining in these comments?? I saw nothing but facts and interesting opinion.
Posted by DrewR over 7 years ago
It misses the point of the USO(C) entirely and is completely wrong-headed. Why does that not surprise me, coming from a BBC strategist?

If those for whom the USO(C) was devised lived or worked near enough to a community hub the chances are that most would already have access to 2Mb adsl. I think Mr Oliver needs to get out more.
Posted by Blood-Donor over 7 years ago
Some people still use the old reliable way.................a pigeon, which in some areas really is faster than broadband.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
Am I missing something? at this time we dont have a 2mbit USO we have a dialup speed USO. By the time 2012 comes as others have rightly said 2mbit will be quite inadequate. By that time youtube will be 1080p in low quality mode.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Not only that but the USO has NEVER been a guaranteed 2Mb it has always been quoted with terms like UPTO. 2Mb for every user in this country will never happen, areas left with straggly copper even after fibre roll out is complete may just live too far from the exchange making supply of 2Mb impossible.... You can not break the laws of physics. Those with 500k dreaming they will get 2Mb are out of luck, unless BT supply fibre to the middle of nowhere and waste millions on a tiny community of 100 or so. If there million miles of copper can only do 500k, thats all its ever gonna do.
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