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Mobile users should pay Digital Britain phone tax

13 июля 2009

BT on Friday called for the monthly 50 pence phone line tax announced in Lord Carter's Digital Britain Report to be extended to include mobile customers as well as fixed.

"The government should consider the opportunity to widen the base for the tax and possibly reduce the amount that each individual household pays," said BT's director of industry policy and regulation Emma Gilthorpe, in a report by the Guardian.

Alcatel-Lucent last week also suggested that the 50 pence phone tax should include mobile users in order to fund the rollout of hybrid next-generation broadband networks.

The plans outlined by the Digital Britain Report propose an annual levy of £6-per-year for every fixed-line in a bid to raise the capital needed to roll out broadband infrastructure to un-served areas of the U.K. – known as the "final third".

If the proposal is adopted, the money raised, or Next Generation Fund, will be dispersed via tenders by a newly-formed body called the Network Design and Procurement Group. The funding allocation would be open to all telcos intending to offer next-generation broadband services, which could include mobile operators.

BT said it would be inappropriate to tax only fixed-lines if mobile operators and wireless providers are eligible to apply for funding.

"I can see the argument from BT's point of view because their customers are being made to pay into a fund that is likely to benefit mobile operators as well as fixed," commented Matt Hatton, principal analyst at Analysys Mason.

However, he warned that while extending the levy to include mobile operators would help to bridge one digital divide, it would also open up another.

"Adding extra cost to mobile, which is the technology of choice for low-income consumers, potentially creates another form of telecoms exclusion based on spending power," explained Hatton.

"It would be putting a toll bridge over the digital divide," he said.

Meanwhile BT announced plans to accelerate the rollout of its new fibre network and provide 1.5 million homes with access to high-speed broadband services by summer 2010.

The telco's £1.5 billion infrastructure project will see 10 million homes connected to its new network by 2012.


Источник: Total Telecom

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