UK to charge 50pc tax to fund universal fibre broadband

17 Jun 2009

In a creative move aimed at building up a fund to pay for fibre for all, the Digital Britain report by Lord Steve Carter proposes a 50p sterling per month levy on all copper lines.

At a time when economies around the world are struggling financially, yet realise that cutting-edge fibre networks are the route to future economic growth, the proposal is novel and pragmatic, but is likely to face opposition.

However, 50p per month is very little when you consider the stream of future jobs and inclusive home health and e-learning opportunities its delivery will bring to areas in need of regeneration.

The moves are being made to ensure that Britain is a leader not a laggard in the emerging digital economy, and other countries would be wise to take note.

The move will ensure that the final third of the UK that currently cannot receive ‘superfast broadband’ will get connected.

The Digital Britain report stated last night: “The Government welcomes the substantial investment and upgrade that is already taking place to build the next-generation broadband infrastructure. Market-led investment is set to achieve wide-scale coverage, with superfast coverage likely to be available to two thirds of the population within five years.

“However, evidence, analysis and industry consensus shows that, in the absence of some market incentive, around one third of the country is likely to still be excluded by that date. The Government accepts that the case has been made for high-speed, next-generation broadband services being made available to the vast majority of the UK population.

“To address this, the Government will consult on proposals for a Next Generation Fund, which will be financed through a 50p per month levy on all fixed copper lines. The fund would be used to support market expansion to the final third.”

Carter estimates that such a fund would raise up to £175m sterling, enough money to provide fibre to the ‘final third’ of the UK that the market deems unviable to roll out infrastructure to.

By John Kennedy

This story is part of the Digital 21 campaign to encourage Ireland to develop a National Digital Development Plan, ensuring the country and its economy are strategically well placed to thrive in the 21st century. For more stories, and to add your comments, visit

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years