Minister Stephen Timms says Digital Britain is not “derailed”, but proceeding “full steam ahead”
The government has said it will introduce the broadband tax announced as part of the Digital Britain report before the next election.
Speaking at an event organised by the The BCS Chartered Institute for IT, Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms said that the 50p a month tax will be introduced as part of a Finance Bill before Christmas.
“We want to make high speed networks nationally available. The next-generation fund will help that and we will legislate for it this side of a general election,” Timms said, according to BBC reports.
However, the Conservatives have indicated that they will oppose the tax. “I’m confident the Conservative party will oppose it. I object to it on the basis that it is another tax and is aimed at people who are using old technology,” said Tory MP John Whittingdale.
In June as part of the Digital Britain report, the government said it is planning to introduce a 50p-a-month tax on phone lines, to create a Next Generation Fund to pay for faster broadband across Britain. The Next Generation Fund will be administered by telecoms regulator Ofcom, and is expected to gather between £150 million to £175 million each year, from a “small levy” of around 50p a month on each copper phone line, the government has said.
Timms also denied that the government was backing away from any of the other commitments in the Digital Britain report due to cutbacks in public spending. “Nothing has been derailed. It is full steam ahead,” he told the BBC.
Earlier this week the European Commission officially adopted guidelines on how member states should subsidise the roll-out of broadband networks. And while the Next Generation Fund is aimed at getting more fibre into the network, BT is using bonded broadband lines to get more speed out of existing copper.