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Superfast Broadband to be funded by BBC TV license fee

Published: 22/05/2010 by Comments


The deployment of super-fast next-gen broadband could be partially funded by portions of the BBC TV license fee.

A policy document published by the new coalition government briefly outlines a plan for the “rapid roll-out of superfast broadband across the country”. The document states that instead of the previous Labour administration’s plan of imposing a 50p tax on every phone line, “part of the TV license fee that is supporting the digital switch-over” will be used if necessary.

The coalition Government has said that it is eager for there to be strong participation of the private sector in funding the super-fast broadband infrastructure, and for close cooperation between the private sector and BT. BT is already sharing its fiber-optic network with other telecommunications providers.

In the run-up to the election, the Conservative party proposed using portions of the TV license fee money towards the provision of next-gen broadband infrastructure, but the Liberal Democrats were generally behind the Labour administrations 50p tax plan.

Many industry insiders were apprehensive of the 50p tax plan, fearing it would discourage the private sector from investing in next-generation broadband network infrastructure.

Michael Phillips, product director at Broadbandchoices.co.uk, applauded the Government’s decision to use funds from the TV license fee, instead of introducing a new tax. In his opinion, the government will probably use the TV license fee money to expand to the broadband network in areas where there is limited commercial interest for the private sector broadband providers. However, he pointed out that as a result of this initiative, even those who may not necessarily want to use the new broadband services will still end up pay for it.

The coalition Government’s plan is not without its more serious detractors however. At a Westminster Media Forum earlier this week, broadcaster Jon Snow said, “The license fee is a regressive tax, it can’t survive. Everyone thinks of it as a tax so why is it not called a tax?”

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