back to article Broadband tax scrapped in 'wash-up'

The Tories forced the government to drop a 50p-a-month tax on every landline last night as ministers made deals to get their budget plans through before the election. The levy had been intended to pay for rollout of fibre optic cables in rural areas. The Conservatives hailed the outcome as a "victory for consumers". The …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward


    Oi gota brand new Farmville 'arvester and Oi'll give you the password.

  2. Aaron Fothergill
    Thumb Down


    UK biz needed a national fibre network rollout 10 years ago. Giving BT even more time to try and sell ISDN lines and dialup to people just puts us further behind the developed world.

    The broadband tax may or may not have been a fair tax but I don't think any of the whitehall mob get the idea that high speed internet across the UK is critical.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Remember that BT wanted to put fibre to the door in the 80s and The Milk Snatcher made sure that they couldn't, in order that there was sufficient competition from the burgeoning cable companies.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "victory for consumers" errr, yeah. Only the Tories have said they're going to introduce a similar setup, if elected, using funding from the TV Licence fee. So we'll just be paying for it in a slightly different way.

    As for super fast broadband, although it would be a nice thing to have, is it really a critical requirement? Perhaps I'm being short sighted or lacking imagination on the issue, but what applications is it actually needed for, other than getting Blu-ray movies a bit faster or boasting about your bit rate?

    I'd love to hear some examples of what can actually be done with it that would make it a critical requirement for the UK in the future, other than the statement that "it's needed!" Needed for what?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "....Needed for what?"


      a) internet shopping, to unlock untapped retail demand in the economy

      b) to reduce information asymmetry, i.e. to inform consumers about rights, DIY solutions, and better purchase sourcing

      c) so crofters in remote Scottish shires can teleconference with one another and do online OU courses on IT and float e-crofting businesses on the Alternative Investment Market

      d) for e-government and e-everything efficiencies (i.e. smaller callcentre payroll).


      a) what you said re getting blu-ray movies

      b) erm...

      c) that's it

    2. Glen 1

      not so much super fast BB as just BB

      I thought the point of the tax was to pay for getting more remote areas wired up (~512kb-1mb up from 56k dial up, which compared to urban areas is not "super fast").

      That's at least an order of magnitude increase (maybe two orders, depending on what speeds actually get rolled out)

      On modern websites, it can take the waiting time from 30+ seconds for a single page to load. (grrrr flash ads) down to <3, and being able to use iplayer properly.

      As they are going to have to dig up the roads (or replace ducted wires and stuff) to do it anyway, they might as well use fibre and do the job properly.

      As for "need" vs "want" it is not *essential* for a person to own/have access to a car, but it lets you do things that you would otherwise not be able to do. The internet is rapidly becoming (if it isn't already) as useful as having a car. (Although i do see you point about a car(BB) vs a souped up sports car (Super fast BB))

  4. DominicT
    Thumb Down

    Typical Tories

    Scrap a progressive bit of legislation and let all the crap though. The 'market' won't provide decent broadband to rural areas, and as someone who lives in a city I'd be only too happy to pay 50p to provide it. Come on Tory voters! I know you think only of yourselves, but it's worth it because you'll be able to get a decent connection at your holiday cottage or second home in the Cotswolds.

    It's exactly this 'me me me' sort of rubbish that demonstrates why the Tories should never be allowed to gain power. God help us all.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Us Tories

      dont want to be bothered by internet in our 2nd homes, we want to get away from work... let the minions in the smoke deal with it.

      Also, i can live we getting email on my iPhone / 3g iPad

    2. Nuke

      @Dominic T

      Even without second homes, the odd thing about this is that rural areas are the Tory strongholds, with most of the cities voting Labour. You would think that the Tories would be all in favour of benifiting their own voters at the expense of their opponents.

      But Tory "Market forces" idealism is so fanatical that it even trumps self-interest. Market forces work well in a Grantham grocers scenario, but don't work for the general good when it comes to infrastructure. Tories know that, but don't want to believe it.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Was I the only one in favor of this?

    50p a month is hardly going to break the bank, and the rewards would have been HUGE.....

    1. Annihilator

      Another here

      No AC, you were not alone. Although it was a weird way of doing it, investment is still required. It'll still happen, it just won't be transparent. I remember the recent history where stealth tax was the big bad wolf - now it turns out it's favourable.

      All that's happened here is that the Conservative's have spotted an easy electorate win - defender of the common man/woman. Ain't nothing but smoke and mirrors..

      1. Adam Salisbury
        Thumb Down

        Missing the point

        The taxpayers still shouldn't be forced to subsidise a Monopoly telco's expansion, simples. BT should've had it done by now

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          No, BT shouldn't have done it by now - This is the big problem with making the country wide communication infrastructure private, a private company is rightly not going to splash money where none will come back. The infrastructure should have remained owned by the country, then it would have been done already...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Don't be daft, it would have got mired in government beurocracy, red tape and the technology rollout would be botched and inefficent.

            Granted BT as a private company are only going to install where they are going to get their best ROI, but they will want to plan it so they get the right technology best possible value and so maintenance and ongoing costs are as simple and cheap as possible.

            As one of the others said above, the internet is as valuable for people as roads and telephones and i think that will only increase. Granted the vast bulk of the web is Pr0n, but there are plenty of seriously useful applications outside of that, and though it's difficult to see, im fairly confident once fibre is enabled this will increase, even though it's not easy to see or predict. As such it is worth as a public service connecting making public funds available to roll out to more remote places.

            My opinion, for what its worth is more or less to let bt/talk talk/etc take it as far as it can. And publicly subsidise the rest. So.... more or less in line with whats happening, as for where the money comes from, i dont really care and long as it it doesn't get taken away from sick kiddies.

            I'll be quiet now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And you're sure it would have stayed at 50p, are you?

      Could well have turned into £5 a month, incorporating an anti-piracy, help out the UK music industry tax and pay for a super duper, spy on everyone's communications mega-database tax.

      We all know these things start of at one price, but once Government gets them in, there'd be a bit of "mission creep" and you'd soon end up paying a lot more.

      Most of road tax doesn't pay for the up keep of roads, go figure.

    3. Aldous

      just like road tax goes on roads

      do you really think they would of used all of it for building fibre? chances are it would just disappear into the great pool

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    dogma triumphs over progress

    Way to go Tories -scrap one of the few sensible parts of the budget, and leave Broadband to the same "market forces" that have kept us firmly in the slow lane of Europe. Leaving national infrastrucure to market forces is a fool's economy,

    or is David Cameron secretly working for the French?

  7. Jordan 6
    Thumb Down

    Bad move

    I don't understand the argument of wanting to scrap the tax. Britain needs to get fibre to home to enable faster connections and new services, and as long as the tax is scrapped once the project is funded then I'm all for it.

    Also since it's tax payer funded we should all have the option of naked fibre so we don't have to give BT £13 a month for phone lines that aren't ever used.

    1. Kate Menzies


      BT actually rang me last night to offer me loads of free stuff if I went back to being billed by them. I pointed out that I was billed by them I just never ever use my phone, and only have it for the broadband (no cable in my area). Hand them the contract via the joys of market forces and see them slam the breaks on anything that stops them charging us all a fortune for absolutely nothing.

  8. David Robinson 1


    Why not keep the tax increase on cider and use that to pay for the fibre roll-out to the countryside? It'll mean that those who want broadband out in the sticks will be funding it directly.

    1. Mike Bell 2

      Nice one, Centurion

      "Ciderspace" - like it! The new name for Somerset, perhaps?

      1. Mark Aggleton
        Thumb Down

        As someone who lives in Somerset

        Very few pubs actually sell real cider. It's all the apple concentrate from France Strongbow and Blackthorn shit. Oh and crap Magners and Kopparberg.

  9. Velv

    Choose where to live

    The vast majority of people in this country are able to choose where they live. Your location comes with benefits and drawbacks. Rural areas have peace and quiet, clean air, and spectacular views. Cities have crime, drunkenness, girls in short skirts and broadband (and perhaps even boys in short skirts just to be politically correct).

    Are we suggesting 11 Downing Street should subsidise Country Pubs? Or perhaps even more controversially, rural Churches. Surely such service are critical to the community and require to be provided by the state.....

    1. Steen Hive

      Yeah... choose outside the UK

      I live in the middle of nowhere and have cheap, uncapped 8MB - sure it's not the 100MB I could get in a city, but it's not in the infrastructural backwater that is the UK either.

  10. David 138
    Thumb Down


    Looks like i will have to suffer stuttering utube video for another decade. On the upside our out of date communications network makes the NHS look modern :P

  11. Nathan 13

    The tit is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    If the government decides it needs to build a fibre optic network for the country bumpkins then use the money they get in general taxation, (or just add it to the £165 billion they borrow lol), dont start inventing new taxes willy nilly.

    Otherwise it just ends up after a while as another tax that gets lost in government bureaucracy.

    Wasnt the air passenger tax meant to be ringfenced for "green issues" yeah right

  12. It wasnt me

    You LOT aRE wORSE THAN daily FAIL!!!! readers

    Good god, whats going on here then?

    When this tax was announced these message boards were full of people hating it. Why should granny with just her landline pay for rich bankers to get fibre to their holiday cottages.??? You could smell the outrage.

    Now someone proposes scrapping it and theres a paradox for the small minded twerps on these boards. Cos that someone is the Conservative party. Yes the nasty tories that mummy told me to hate cos there used to a be a nasty lady called thatcher and she woz evil and made the entire country redundant and privatised everything and spent the money on tory party holiday homes and tax breaks.

    Pathetic. Fancy having so little brain matter that you chose the sides in a sensible discussion based on the colour of tie the PM wears.

    Labours answer to everything is increase Tax. That is singularly the only solution they have ever had to any problem. Maybe you should look into alternatives, like raising money elsewhere? Or spending less of it???


  13. HiGene

    Political dogma

    Oh you people, you never fail to surprise me. I suppose you all buy the '£6 billion out of the economy' claptrap, too.

    National fibre to the premises project is already well underway, courtesy of BT, which will (theoretically) allow speeds up to 100Gbps. It is being funded by people buying services from BT, that's how the private economy works. Demand brings supply. How in the hell do you expect HMG, masters of waste, to help?

    And, no, 50p may not break the bank, but when you add it to all the other 50p that Messrs Brown and Darling have siphoned from your pockets over the last decade it adds up to a hell of a lot!

    Go on, hit that thumbs down button. Each one makes me shed one more tear.

  14. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    For those who think this tax was a good idea ....

    If it's money which is needed 'for the sake of the country, for society as a whole' then fund it from central funds, not through a tax on a particular section of the community.

    I'm actually in favour of this expansion, just not in favour of how it's being funded. In my case, I'm paying for the cable I have, won't be getting any refund on that, and why should I have to pay twice over ?

    Also, if we - individuals - were funding it, what about seeing some return on that investment if it becomes profitable ? No chance; this government wants us to pay and for itself an business to reap the rewards.

    The real irony is that the need for funding show 'market forces' fail to deliver, and that governments are too afraid to 'nationalise' or dictate to companies to sort the mess out, so we end up with a bodge where we end up paying as individuals. Nationalise the people not the businesses is how it looks to me.

    1. Just Thinking


      The poorer elderly seemed particularly unfairly treated by this tax. They are least able to avoid it by switching to mobile (too complicated, and the phones are too fiddly to use). They are also the least likely to benefit, as they unlikely to use the internet in any beneficial way.

      When was it ever fair to place a poll tax on domestic appliances?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    A Cunning Plan

    ...scrap the tax to pay for rural broadband.....OohArr, never moind, you can always mask out the tedium of dial up internet access speeds by drinking all that cheap cider.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: hmmmm

    I agree with you .... taxing the many for the benefit of the few.

    If commercial companies can't make a case for it - why should we pick up the bill ?

  17. irish donkey

    I wrote to my MP... Did you? Why not?

    It takes longer to write a comment on 'The Reg'

    So what's the point.?

    For once the Politico's are at least thinking about the laws they are trying to push through.

    And we are proving that we can change the laws they are imposing on us and that it's not a done deal.

    So will you Vote.

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Why the hell should we have to pay to allow BT and the rest of the shower to get away with NOT investing the huge profits they've made from us over the years?

  19. theblackhand

    Why was the tax needed?

    Why pay another tax?

    Sure £6/year isn' t much, but surely this could be funded by the broadcasting fee to provide areas without broadband based on what BBC spokespeople have said about iPlayer and the £3.75 billion they currently receive from UK taxpayers as licence fees and subsidies.

    As far as I was aware, the additional money would not be used to fund higher speed broadband in areas that already had broadband access - the market was already supposed to address this requirement.

  20. Da Weezil


    Being a market one customer out in the sticks where your oil and gas (and soon some more power) comes from the one thing I objected to was paying even more for (in effect) an under performing broadband service courtesy of BT wholesale on the vague promise of jam sometime in the distant future maybe (sweetness of jam is subject to limitation of line length and wetness of string). Places like this don't get the super-cheap broadband deals, oh apart from the ones where the contention ration is about 1000 to 1 - all of this to fund an open ended commitment to maybe provide a service at some undefined point in the future.

    Fund it from taxation by all means, but let BTw RENT that at a capped rate from the public who have paid for this asset from this indirect taxation, and have clauses in place that prevent predatory pricing by BTw for services over this network - and give us a firm timetable for the arrival of the improvements we are expected to pay for in advance - and probably on an on-going basis.

    The UK pricing regime is a joke - and not a funny one.

    Coat - Mine is one one with the governments hand in its pocket- AGAIN.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Nuff said..

  22. Anonymous Coward

    is it me?

    Am I missing something here? Surely to god FTTH means home working it means business's that can have multi-location networks that can run legacy app's without having to pay 10's of thousands a month for it. In my book that add's a lot of new ways of working and a lot of money on a companies bottom line which means guess what more nice tax money and higher pay! (unless the companies really greedy :P)

    If anything they should of bailed out the people's money and let the banks fall and used 3billion to give everyone a wack of money and another 3 billion to fund the fibre roll out.

  23. Jimathy


    We get to keep crap broadband speeds in great swathes of the country, or not at all in many cases.

    But hey at least cider is going to stay cheap!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      So if the price of your Cider rose should all us beer drinkers be charged extra to subsidise it.

  24. VulcanV5

    Well done, the Tories. . .

    . . . though I never thought I'd write that about Dave's lot.

    Why can't people get it into their heads that the 50p 'investment' was yet ANOTHER instance of Brown's Socialist State interfering in everyone's lives, and everyone's pockets?

    Why can't people get it into their heads that having failed to retain his cloak of infallibility (yeah, right), his halo as an economics genius (yeah, right again) Brown has had to rush around, desperately looking for something -- anything -- to make him look good.

    As Harold Wilson demonstrated when a similarly beleaguered Prime Minister, the ol' white heat of technology is definitely the way to go.

    Brown couldn't care less about broadband or rural affairs or, well, anything apart from Brown.

    But he certainly does care, and care greatly, about being seen to have some single redeeming feature, in this instance, the facilitator of a brave new world of high speed Internet for all.

    That The Treasury could have done that years ago when Brown's tame acolyte Nick Brown was, thanks to Gordon, appointed Minister of Rural Affairs, is obvious. Obvious, also, is the fact that the cost of so doing was but a small percentage of the amount of public money actually lost by Brown (Nick) in his predictably epic mishandling of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

    Brown (Nick) lost his ministerial job soon after and the country has been the better for it.

    Brown (Gordon) however continues on, and the country (and countryside) continues to be the worst for it.

    The 50p would have swallowed up in funding yet more quangos or special advisers or untraceable off-the-book projects so beloved of Brown.

    But of course, by that stage Brown could indeed -- and most certainly would -- have claimed that here he was, yet again, the dynamic visionary, the leading advocate of the latest Wilsonian white-hot, or perhaps wet, dream of enabling crofters everywhere to watch Youtube at high speed.

    I won't be voting Dave at the next election (and obviously, never, ever, Labour again) but even so: well done, the Tories.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like