The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government has this morning published its full coalition agreement. This new document spanning 36 pages goes into more detail on a number of areas including government policy on broadband:
"We will introduce measures to ensure the rapid roll-out of superfast broadband across the country. We will ensure that BT and other infrastructure providers allow the use of their assets to deliver such broadband, and we will seek to introduce superfast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas. If necessary, we will consider using the part of the TV licence fee that is supporting the digital switchover to fund broadband in areas that the market alone will not reach."Government Broadband Policy
It does not provide the level of detail many will hope, but no doubt this will emerge in due course after the new ministers can start to get to grips with the details of proposals. What is clear is that the Conservative policy of top-slicing the BBC license fee has not been ruled out in a bid to aid broadband rollout in rural areas, and we do not expect to see a return of the 'broadband tax', a 50 pence per month levy proposed by the previous government. The policy does leave open the possibility of further funding mechanisms, including provisions such as reform of the fibre rates, that will encourage the industry to invest in next generation networks.