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UK Government Announces Broadband Tax

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the one-hand-giveth dept.

The Internet 252

Barence writes "The UK Government is planning a 50p-per-month levy on fixed-line connections to pay for next-generation broadband. The Government claims that market forces alone will bring fiber connections to only two thirds of the country, so it plans to use the 'broadband tax' to pay for the final third by 2017. The plans form part of the Government's Digital Britain report, which also see the UK guarantee connections of 2Mbits/sec for every citizen by 2012." The report also threatens legal action and bandwidth restriction for repeat file sharers.

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Pointless (5, Insightful)

Captain Kirk (148843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359079)

BT still owns the all the backbone connectivity and makes obscene profits on it. Taxing users in order to make more connections to that backbone monopoly is totally wrong.

Re:Pointless (3, Insightful)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359211)

Don't you mean they own the last mile [wikipedia.org] ? Given that it's uneconomical to have loads of different companies constantly digging up the roads to wire up their own customers, then you have to choose either 1) the state lets a single company do it and regulates (what the UK has now) or 2) a state owned company does it (what the UK used to have). The interesting thing here is that in both cases the company was BT. A third possibility might be that the last mile infrastructure is communally owned but building and maintenance is put out to tender to private companies.

Greedy corrupt control freak UK government (4, Insightful)

MindKata (957167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359473)

"A third possibility might be that the last mile infrastructure is communally owned"

A fourth possibility is they pay for it out of the cost to the people who need better connections outside of the major cities.

Getting others to pay for it is nuts. Also where does this thinking end? Can the government simply choose ever more ways to tax people to give to yet more companies to partially fund what the company should be earning from the sale of its products.

Also they are selling a rubbish product. 2Mbits is obsolite now. So do they then come back in a few years time, to take even more money to pay to upgrade it to say 8Mbits ... then come back again and again taking ever more money every few years. Each time taking millions more to pay for incremental upgrades.

What is it with the current UK government. Their greedy corrupt control freak attitude seems to have no end. I love how they spin it as (implied *just*) 50p-per-month levy. That sounds so much better than £6 (about $10) extra tax per year. The UK Government gives hundreds of billions to their rich banker friends and then their friends in telecoms also want some free extra money, so the Government decides to take some more money from people. Haven't they given enough already this year?!?. £6 may not be much when you have a job, but its a lot for the elderly on a pension. Also if someone walked up to you in the street and just tried to take that amount of money off you, everyone would complain about it, yet this government can just decide to take it wherever they wish.

Its not as if BT are short of money... "BT to freeze pay of 100,000 employees" ... while "Ian Livingston, the chief executive, stands to make more than £6 million in bonuses this year if performance targets are met. This is on top of his basic salary of £850,000." ... Its a corrupt arragant UK government giving millions more to an arragant corrupt boss treating his staff with contempt. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/telecoms/article5890128.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Re:Greedy corrupt control freak UK government (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359711)

Also they are selling a rubbish product. 2Mbits is obsolite now. So do they then come back in a few years time, to take even more money to pay to upgrade it to say 8Mbits ... then come back again and again taking ever more money every few years. Each time taking millions more to pay for incremental upgrades.

Get serious. Nobody's going to run fiberoptics to every farm on the countryside, if they tried you'd be paying 600 GBP instead of 6 GBP. Many people outside population centers are still stuck on dialup, and ADSL would be a big upgrade. At least if they mean 2Mbit and not "up to" in the week with three sundays. Broadband is probably one of the most disproportionally distributed services, everywhere you can get power and water and phones but 10Mbit+ lines is almost exclusively in big cities.

Re:Greedy corrupt control freak UK government (3, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359751)


Hey, I can afford 50p a month and if it actually goes toward dragging our country into the 21st Century, then I'm fine with it. I don't care if I have to subsidize a few people out in the countryside. The more people that have a decent connection, the better for UK businesses that rely on it. It also inches us toward telecommuting being viable which (a) reduces congestion in and out of the cities, (b) reduces the environmental impact on all of us and (c) lowers housing costs in built up areas.

But mainly it's just that it's 50p a month. If the government came round all our doors and asked for £6.00 to improve our country's broadband infrastructure, I'd happily stick it in the tin so long as I knew the money wasn't disappearing into BT's (or any other one company's) bank account.

Re:Greedy corrupt control freak UK government (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359797)

Its not as if BT are short of money... "BT to freeze pay of 100,000 employees" ... while "Ian Livingston, the chief executive, stands to make more than £6 million in bonuses this year if performance targets are met. This is on top of his basic salary of £850,000." ... Its a corrupt arragant UK government giving millions more to an arragant corrupt boss treating his staff with contempt. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/telecoms/article5890128.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

No, its not as if BT are short of money, but why should they suffer the cost of a non profitable market sector? You can already gain access to the last mile infrastructure, but the problem is no third party has done it for these outlying areas. So why should BT?

Re:Pointless (1)

JuniorJack (737202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359265)

Yes same here, i am on 24 Mbps Be, and i get only 16 because of the crappy cable BT have. When it's raining i loose
another 2 Mbps and that's often here in the UK. Why should i pay 50p more to subsidise other people connection ?

Re:Pointless (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359283)

"There's no such thing as Society." Or as my cat puts it: "Me! Me! Me!"

Re:Pointless (1)

JuniorJack (737202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359459)

"There's no such thing as Society."

Or as my cat puts it: "Me! Me! Me!"

Yes but i already take part by barely watching TV, but paying licence so people like you can
watch the latest 'shot on camcorder' episode of Coronation street. I guess with the 50p tax
you will be able to even catch it on your BBC iPlayer and help clog my speed further ...

Re:Pointless (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359295)

BT is restricted in how much it can wholesale ADSL lines for - and the companies taking advantage of LLU (Local Loop Unbundling) at the exchange seem to have cherry picked all the good, profitable sites (large towns, cities and the like) and left the outlying areas well alone.

So I don't think its altogether fair to round on BT for this - the option for other companies to freely compete in these areas has been around for several years, and it has failed. So why should BT be forced to supply ADSL to outlying areas in a lossmaking fashion when no one else will?

BT horrendously overcharges for bandwidth (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359381)

And they charge based on bits transferred, not bits able to be transferred. Meaning that the most economical way of selling broadband is to oversubscribe and blame other users on the slow connection.

Re:BT horrendously overcharges for bandwidth (3, Funny)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359683)

BT does not horrendously overcharge for bandwidth, the rates they can charge to other competitors is heavily regulated by OFCOM in the UK. If ISPs are not charging what it actually costs to provide the service, then the problem is the ISP and not BT nor the user.

Re:BT horrendously overcharges for bandwidth (0)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359719)

Also, in addition to my other post, BT charge based on Megabits per second and Kilobits per second, not bits transferred. If you buy a line from BT Wholesale, you pay based on the capability of that line and not actual transfer. The current monthly wholesale costs are £122.64 per Megabit/second and £0.2665 per Kilobit/second depending on the product taken.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359685)

So why should BT be forced to supply ADSL to outlying areas in a lossmaking fashion when no one else will?

Because they were granted ownership of a country-wide government built network to reap all the profits they can from?

If they don't want to provide services to all taxpayers, then they can build their own sodding network and we can run our own again.

Re:Pointless (1, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359733)

They weren't granted ownership of anything, the government *sold* the infrastructure when they privitised British Telecom. Oh, and the government also paid Mercury Communications a not insignificant sum of money to put in a second national network during the 1980s - that network became Cable & Wireless, and thus Virgin Media. Tell me this - where is the requirement for Virgin Media to wholesale their lines?

Plus, BTs mandate only extends to universal service for phone systems and 14.4Kbit/sec capable lines. Stop moving the goal posts.

Re:Pointless (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359311)

BT have made various attempts to hold back broadband in the UK. A few years ago a high ranking employee states that there was no future whatsoever in broadband so there was little or no point in making it fast.

When you consider the fact that countries like Japan with VDSL, Sweden and South Korea have an average speed of 50mbps (and have had for a while now), the promise of a minimum 2gb isn't exactly exciting me.

BT refuse to allow this tech so they can charge more for it at a later date. Why bring out something new when you can rake in more by holding back the advances (similar to the death of the electric car at GM). I am sorry to say that I am on a BT line (through no fault of my own) and I am disgusted with the infrastructure in place. I understand that Britain had it first and our systems weren't exactly made to be easily replaceable, but what we have now is a joke.

I welcome the new proposals as a good start, but they really don't go far enough.

Re:Pointless (1)

zefrer (729860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359689)

Sadly, in same position as you.
As a case in point, I come from a backwater country of a population of less than a million with broadband speeds of barely over 1Mb (theoretical..) and my current connection with BT is _far_ worse than that.

Take that as you will.

Re:Pointless (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359363)

That's not really true. There are cable providers who supply broadband. Mine is supplied by Virgin Media.

Re:Pointless (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359451)

BT still owns the all the backbone connectivity and makes obscene profits on it.

Supposedly, though, the quid pro quo for BT inheriting a near-monopoly from the old, state-funded infrastructure is that they are under a Universal Service Obligation [ofcom.org.uk] that requires them to provide telephone serviced to all, and not to cherry pick.

Unfortunately, this only applies to Plain Old Telephone Services - and extending it to Broadband would vastly increase the cost...

Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359081)

At 2Mb/s, I'd say the entire country gets punished right from the start. This sort of speed is okay, but it's hardly the future.

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359107)

the point is that most people get more than that, unless they live far away from the exchange. People who live in the wilds, for example.

I get 7mbps, but to be fair, I'd happily pay 50p a month extra if it meant they laid fibre everywhere (my house in the metropolis first please) and I got 20mbps :) I'd even pay £1 more for something even faster...

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (3, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359121)

I'm on 3mbit, and I don't mind. I'd prefer more speed, but 3mbit is actually enough to watch HD stuff off gametrailers.com, and finish downloads reasonably fast. If I need to download something big, like a steam game, I can always leave my computer on overnight.

Much more important than raw speed - the amount of bandwidth. I get 200GB/mo, which is very difficult to use up entirely. Somehow I doubt the UK/BT will give its customers that much.

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359395)

Chances are it'll be closer to what I get from Sky for free as part of their "See, Speak, Surf" package: 2Mb/s and a 2GB/mo cap. 2Mb/s seems fast enough for everything I do (the round-trip response seems to be the longest part at times!) and somewhere around 2GB isn't unreasonable for most people's usage (I run a few websites on top of normal browsing, but the only times I think I have gone over were downloading Linux Live CDs).

High-speed broadband for everyone is a great idea, but when people are still making do with 56K dial-up then we're not exactly going to have the government jumping to give us Japan and South Korean equivalent networks, are we?

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (2, Interesting)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359519)

[S]omewhere around 2GB isn't unreasonable for most people's usage (I run a few websites on top of normal browsing, but the only times I think I have gone over were downloading Linux Live CDs).

2GB is enough if all people do is email and websites (but then, dial-up is enough for that...). As soon as you step into the 21st century, it is woefully underproportioned even if you don't do big downloads: 2GB per month is just enough for 1 hour/day of internet radio or skype OR 15 mins/day of low-rez Youtube. If someone actually wanted to use the BBC iPlayer that he paid for with his TV tax, his quota would be used up within an afternoon...

Point being: If you cripple the use of broadband by limiting it with small transfer quotas, you might as well save the money...

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (1)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359207)

What the fuck are you on about? I live in a small town in the North East, 28 miles from the nearest city and 250 miles from London, with a population of 11,000 in one of the most rural counties in England. I am currently sat here on 20Mbit ADSL2+. My parents live in a house in the middle of nowhere 6 miles away from us and 2 miles from the nearest hamlet. They get 2Mbit and it's people like them that the 2Mbit minimum is aimed at.

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359287)

I live a mile out of Southampton (population ~250,000), and I'm barely scraping 2Mbit. The problem is that new housing estates go in as the towns grow, but new exchanges don't, meaning my copper phone line is about 3.5km long, and the exchange is heavily contended. Smaller towns generally have far better internet speeds due to on average shorter line lengths.

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359223)

I'd love a speed of 2 megabytes per second.

These forces already lost in the govt.. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359261)

The UK government already made these empty threats about "3 strikes" before and never followed through with it.

Add to this EU measures against such disconnection and the failure of such measures in other nations for human rights reasons, and I don't see this as a credible threat, just a bunch of babbling on.

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359661)

Nor does it make Britain the world's #1 which is what the PM was saying yesterday.
Can someone please take the govt aside and explain to them the difference between rhetoric and just sounding ignorant?

Re:Repeat file sharers get bandwidth restriction? (1)

erikdalen (99500) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359701)

I hope they at least mean that everyone should have at least 2Mb/s upload speed as well. At least here in Sweden there's a lot of people on ADSL that only have 1Mb/s upload.

They can't be trusted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359097)

A total waste of time, and how can we trust these idiots to actually spend the money on what they're levying the tax for? Heh, they'll be insisting we all install Green Dam Youth Escort next!!

They money will go straight to the Treasury (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359517)

"how can we trust these idiots to actually spend the money on what they're levying the tax for?"

You can't and they won't. Just like road tax goes into the general pot so will this. Its just another way for our failed government to raise taxes.

Interesting scheme... (3, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359129)

Instead of the gov' taxing people and placing down public broadband lines companies can compete over... They're literally handing a giant check to the existing two big broadband network suppliers (cable and DSL) and asking them to put down the lines. So in the long term they're just giving the broadband networks a larger subscriber base without any real public benefit.

There is nothing wrong with the tax but what they're using it for is flawed. It will lead to monopolies in most areas, or at best two options to pick from that both charge similar rates and provide similar services.

Re:Interesting scheme... (1, Informative)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359219)

There is nothing wrong with the tax but what they're using it for is flawed. It will lead to monopolies in most areas, or at best two options to pick from that both charge similar rates and provide similar services.

There speaks someone who knows fuck all about the UK market. The network suppliers are merely carriers for ISPs. My phone line is provided by BT. My broadband travels over BT's network. I can choose from over 100 ISPs. I suggest you take a look at how broadband works in the UK before you continue to make yourself look like a clown. Hint: It's completely different to the USA.

Re:Interesting scheme... (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359269)

They're giving the money to BT (DSL) and Virgin (cable). BT is a private for-profit company and as such will limit what it will allow competition to do and set the prices higher than a public network. Virgin [Media] doesn't allow people to use their network at all.

A public network is always the right answer. You set up the cables, maintain them, and then set the fees based on what you're paying to keep it up-and-running.

With your hugely sarcastic post you also didn't address why these private for-private companies should be getting a huge check out of the pocket of tax payers? Or a better question, why they're getting a huge check which they can then turn around and use to make EVERY MORE money? It is just handing them the keys to the vault.

Re:Interesting scheme... (3, Interesting)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359299)

Well I'm not sure about the case with Virgin, who don't share their lines, but BT is obliged to, as the GP somewhat rudely said. So at least in terms of BT, who own all the non-cable last mile infrastructure in the country, it's not handing them alone a gift, although they will profit from it, it's also a gift to all the ADSL providers that use BT's infrastructure (at least the last mile), which is all of them.

Still, I'm not sure what a better solution is tbh, considering the current situation. A better contract at the time of privatisation would have been a solution, but that horse has bolted.

Re:Interesting scheme... (3, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359317)

A public network is always the right answer. ... With your hugely sarcastic post you also didn't address why

He addressed it as well as your outright assertion without any arguement to back it up. BT was a public company, the reason it was privatised was exactly because it wasn't perceived to be very good. The price of broadband in the UK has decreased hugely over the last couple of years, not least because of the competitive market. I won't make the case that private industry is better because it minimises waste often found in public companies, or that public owned is better because they don't have the motivation to profit gouge like private companies, either can work, especially when placed in a competitive environment.

The price of BB worldwide decreased (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359389)

Was that because BT was privatised???

NO.

Re:Interesting scheme... (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359331)

They're giving the money to BT (DSL) and Virgin (cable). BT is a private for-profit company and as such will limit what it will allow competition to do and set the prices higher than a public network.

BT is tightly controlled on what it can and cannot do with regard to its infrastructure and allowing other companies to have access to it - there are fairly low upper limits to the pricing structure that BT can use to wholesale its lines, and there is always the option of Local Loop Unbundling.

The problem is, it always ends up with the profitable areas being cherry picked by providers, and the outlying areas being left in the cold. In these situations you have two options - subsidise BT to provide a loss making line, or have the government form a public entity to provide connectivity using wholesale or LLU lines.

Re:Interesting scheme... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359743)

I don't think a public network is a wise answer to much of anything.

History, at least in the states, show that the government will siphon off as much as possible for other pet projects then raise their hands in ignorance and claim there isn't enough money to fix the roads, we need another tax. Then after the levies fail and people ask why it wasn't maintained better and the investigation showed that project that would have directly effected the failure points in the levies were diverted to build a couple of bridges that most residents said wasn't needed but the council member had ties to the construction companies so they went in anyways. But I guess paying attention to all that just gives politicians excuses to raise taxes somewhere while shouting about the bridge collapsed from a faulty design that included the wrong size gussets despite the fact that it passed all the inspections and was considered safe (safe enough) up to the time of fell into the river.

I don't have confidence in publicly owned networks of any kind. Not because it isn't possible, but because of the willful abuse of any accumulated funds. Maybe Al Gore was right, we need a lock bock to put the lock box with the key to the other lock box in.

What good will this do (5, Insightful)

Houndofhell (1480889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359133)

Problem is BT estimates that it will cost upwards of £5Bn to do FttC.At 50p a month even if every household paid this. It would still take 37.9 years to raise that amount. Its totally pointless, further more the problem in the UK is that all the politicans and BPI seem to have gotten it in their heads that all file-sharing is illegal regardless of whether it is family videos or the latest cinema release.

Re:What good will this do (1, Interesting)

ranulf (182665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359323)

That 50p extra per month they want to charge me is exactly the 50p they gave me back a few months ago when they dropped the VAT on my £20 pcm broadband bill from £3 to £2.50. And now they want that back...

Oh wait, aren't they getting that back in December when they hike the VAT rate back up again? And that's assuming that it only goes back up to 17.5% rather than the 20% everyone's expecting... :(

New labour, new (stealth) taxes.

Re:What good will this do (2, Insightful)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359333)

Problem is BT estimates that it will cost upwards of ã5Bn to do FttC.At 50p a month even if every household paid this. It would still take 37.9 years to raise that amount. Its totally pointless

The article says they are funding "fixed/wireless services", so that isn't what they're funding.

further more the problem in the UK is that all the politicans and BPI seem to have gotten it in their heads that all file-sharing is illegal regardless of whether it is family videos or the latest cinema release

No, you (and far too many other people) have gotten it into your head that they think that, and you won't let it go. Note that the government quote actually says "piracy of intellectual property" and not file sharing in general.

I know it's hard, and nobody really expects you to, but you should try reading the articles.

Re:What good will this do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359437)

From other sources and a multitude of interviews with MPs and select commitees whenever they talk about punishing file-sharers they never make the distinction.

Re:What good will this do (2, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359791)

The fact that they are concentrating on Fibre to the Cabinet is a disaster too. It's already old hat, with other countries moving to Fibre to the Home/Premises.

It doesn't help that Virgin Media keeps lying about having "fibre optic" broadband. They don't - they have analogue fibre to their cabinets, then it's copper to the home. What we need is digital fibre all the way to the wall socket.

FttC is the reason why we are aiming so low (2Mb) instead of looking at more useful speeds. 2Mb is barely enough for one person to watch an iPlayer low quality stream - it's inadequate now, let alone in 2012. By then the people only able to get 2Mb will be in the same position people only able to get dial-up are now: they will be locked out of all the services they want to access.

Ahhh.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359137)

....a tax, how imaginative.

Didn't the US do something similar? (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359151)

I'm sure I recall something about US phone companies being given vast quantities of money - officially to lay on broadband, but there were no sanctions written in to say "failure to lay on broadband will result in the money being repayable" or similar.

Quite what happened with the money I don't know but it wasn't spent on broadband.

Good thing. If done right. (4, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359161)

This actually *is* a good thing - if the money inmediately is used for the intended purpose: Bringing nation-wide Broadband fast. Which would mean that the runtime of this tax is limited to a few years, when every corner of the countryside has broadband.

This is actually quite different from the German GEZ fee for Internet capable devices. Which is bizar beyond anything concievable.

Re:Good thing. If done right. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359209)

No , you've got it all wrong, see? If you make the tax end when the whole country has broadband, you give the politicians a reason to never let you have broadband--if you get it, they lose revenues. And then how will they pay for things they actually care about? Better to have the tax not take effect until after you have your broadband. Make them work for your money.

Limited tme? (1, Redundant)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359215)

I'm sure goverments spend alot of time thinking of new ways to tax people, hell they'd tax breathing air and having sex if they could. I've never seen a tax that is rescinded, tax revenue to goverments is like heroin to a junkie.

Re:Good thing. If done right. (4, Interesting)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359217)

This actually *is* a good thing - if the money inmediately is used for the intended purpose: Bringing nation-wide Broadband fast.

Unfortunately given the track record of our government, I can't say I'm hugely optimistic about that. This smells of the kind of private-public partnerships that our government is so fond of, where they can claim a low up-front cost for a scheme, but it ends up costing more than they thought, with the private companies raking it in at the tax payers expense. See for example the PFI hospital schemes [timesonline.co.uk] that Mr Brown championed so keenly. I expect the telcos in line to be involved in this are rubbing their hands with glee.

just wonderfull (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359165)

"One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary."
-- Ayn Rand

The worrying bit is here .... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359191)

>The Government says it will make it "easier and cheaper" for rights holders to take civil action against file sharers.
>
>What's more, it will "place an obligation on ISPs to maintain records of the most frequent offenders, which would allow rights holders to take targeted legal action against these >infringers."
>
>Finally, ISPs will be roped in to protect copyright material, restricting bandwidth to known filesharers, and even blocking access to certain protocols entirely.

ONLY approved protocols available - that's dictatorship, not government. Thank fuck that we'll be rid of the ruling party for a very long time (possibly for ever) after next June

What's the point.. (1)

GeorgeStone22 (1532191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359203)

When in the end you're just going to limit everyones access to the internet anyway via the IWF and other spy schemes..

posting on slashdot is waste of time...oops (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359257)

censorships rule you out anyway

The actual report (5, Informative)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359279)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/16_06_09digitalbritain.pdf [bbc.co.uk]

Other major points in the report (from this BBC article [bbc.co.uk] ):

  • a three-year plan to boost digital participation
  • universal access to broadband by 2012
  • fund to invest in next generation broadband
  • digital radio upgrade by 2015
  • liberalisation of 3G spectrum
  • legal and regulatory attack on digital piracy
  • support for public service content partnerships
  • changed role for Channel 4
  • consultation on how to fund local, national and regional news
  • £130m of BBC licence fee to pay for ITV regional news

Re:The actual report misses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359357)

... and totally ignores
- your-cellphone-is-your-internet-access-device in the future, if not today.
- unwired / 3G broadband via dongles is one of the biggest growth areas in broadband takeup (albeit subject to 3G coverage).
- that plenty of people don't want internet / broadband services. And so won't use it.
- for people who can't afford current broadband rates (from £10/$15 pm)... they are likely to have other more pressing problems, and probably have access to a community internet service (public library) or internet cafe.
- the cost for providing wired broadband to remote communities - and there are still lots of those in the UK - is going to be pretty expensive...

So it does seem to be an infrastructure tax. Unlike certain US taxes, note though this does not have an expiry date attached.

Re:The actual report (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359361)

On the subject of the Digital Britain report, the UK pirate party has already released a response to the report that, rather than making the broad statements various officials did (the BPI claiming it wasn't enough, the Tories saying it was a "colossal disappointment" - you wonder if either had actually read the report) it includes a section on each of the main points of the report relevant to the PPUK's views. The response can be found here [pirateparty.org.uk] .

Re:The actual report (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359505)

Pirate Party UK really need to get themselves a press officer who can write a press release, and sharpish.

Re:The actual report (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359693)

a three-year plan to boost digital participation

They're going to build a windmill? ;-)

Re:The actual report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359823)

Guess which one will get the lion's share of the funds... Give up? I predict point 6 - fighting piracy.

Re:The actual report (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359857)

Note to government: "next generation" broadband is not ADSL or half fibre/half copper. It is pure fibre, with a symmetrical connection (same upload speed as download speed).

Big problem with this. (4, Interesting)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359281)

Surely the problem here isn't that the UK government is trying to raise taxes to pay for something that has a massive social benefit, but that it's doing it via a poll tax? I pay as much towards this project as my millionaire friend and my grandmother who's on a small pension. Is it really that unfashionable to tax the rich?

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359335)

The rich already make a disproportionate contribution in the form of heavy income tax.
As far as I'm concerned, once they've done that they can then do what they like with what remains and should be able to do so on the same terms as everyone else.

Re:Big problem with this. (2, Interesting)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359369)

Even though people with higher incomes are more likely to have broadband access? This just seems a crazy setup: people who are less able to pay the tax are being forced to pay at the same level as everyone else, and people who don't have any need for broadband but still want a phone line have to subsidise those of us who do want broadband! I'm afraid I subscribe to the old idea that capitalism is an imperfect system and a progressive tax regime - with the rich getting taxed more than the poor, because their richness is partly down to the luck of the draw rather than aptitude or application - can be used to iron it out.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359471)

People with higher incomes are more likely to have most things. The richer they are the more they are going to spend. Which means they probably pay more in VAT in a month that you pay income tax in a year. And they've already paid a FAR bigger net percentage of their earnings in income tax than you.
Now you want to tax them extra not only on what they earn but also on what they spend. Just how much subsidising do people need?

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359527)

I don't disagree with any of this. I just think it should be applied across the board - if you are more able to pay taxes, you should be made to pay more taxes. The reason for this is as outlined in my earlier post: people who earn more do not necessarily work harder, and they are not necessarily more highly skilled. It's just a fluke of the system, and we can use taxes to iron that out. You don't seem to have disagreed explicitly with that assertion: you're just drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and saying "enough is enough". So I don't get accused of wanting subsidies, I should point out that in pretty much any progressive taxation system going I'd get absolutely screwed. I'm currently on the wrong end of an inheritance tax bill of over £150,000...

Re:Big problem with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359569)

I think "more able to pay taxes" is the key point - the assumption is that someone who has a higher gross income is assumed to have more disposable income than people on a lower income. This does not always follow, given the benefits handed out to people for sitting on their arses and having (note, not raising) children.

As a purely hypothetical example, if someone on £50k is paying £20k in taxes and gets no benefits, and someone on £0k is paying no tax and getting £30k in benefits, are they any more able to afford to pay more tax. (And, as a much more important side issue, how is this situation encouraging anyone to actually get off their arses, work hard and improve themselves, the economy and society?)

We need to work on that assumption as well as the ones you mention for it to be a balanced discussion.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359747)

Yes, of course. Someone could be earning £50k a year but have three children at university, and would therefore have less disposable income than someone with no kids on £25k a year. But the general correlation is that the more money you have, the more disposable income you have.

In my view progressive taxation doesn't start with the people who earn £50k a year though; it starts with the people who earn millions. I can see why people need £50k a year to live a nice life; I'm a bit sickened by people who earn millions and pay very little tax.

Yes, the need to earn a wage is a great motivator and any system should be designed in such a way that people are motivated. The UK benefits system is designed in this way, to a great extent - whatever certain newspapers would have us believe, it is very difficult to live off benefits for a long period of time unless you have a long-term disability. And the mount of money lost on "fake" benefit payments is nowhere near the amount lost in tax avoidance.

Anyway, this is now getting pretty off topic so I'm going to sign off. Night, all...

Re:Big problem with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359827)

Except that's not quite true is it. Its not the rich that are supporting the banks by taking out credit cards and loans and paying back interest for the rest of their lives. Its not the rich buying new crap to make themselves feel better and thereby supporting the highstreet brands is it?

I see how your theory works, but experience shows that it just doesn't work out that way in reality. The rich bounce money and forth between themselves (lawyers hire their accounting friends and vice versa), funnel it out to international interests without it ever seeing the local economy. Its the poor slobs that have no choice that support the local business's, that keep the highstreet brands going, which in turn keeps more people in jobs etc. etc.

Not only that, but if we could move away from 7% of the population owning 80% of the resources and assets, it would actually improve the value of said resources and assets. When the highest earning fraction of the population is responsible for setting interest rates and as the most likely early adopters, also helping to set prices, because they can afford more they skew the perceived value of money itself and the products. If the money was more evenly distributed between the population then we would come closer to seeing goods sell for a realistic percentage above their cost.

Its obvious when you think about it aswell. If 1 guy has 1 million quid he might buy one big TV (or house of whatever a million will buy these days), if 10 guys have a million between them, they;re going to need to buy 10 times more than this 1 guy. More will be bought, even if each item is bought for less, more products being bought means more being created, means more jobs being sustained.

There is no good reason to perpetually defend the obscenely rich unless you are one, or you hope to be one. If you have any interest at all in sustaining a fair and healthy economy, you have to see the benefit in ensuring a more even distribution of resources.

Re:Big problem with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359427)

The rich already make a disproportionate contribution in the form of heavy income tax.

I already make disproportionate payments for basics like bread:

A loaf of bread costs £1.00. Which means if I spent all my money on bread, I could buy about 10,000 loaves/year (incidently, I don't earn enough to pay off my student loan - so much for supposedly getting a better paid job because I went to Uni) , whereas a rich person, someone who has to pay the higher rate, will be able to buy over twice as many loaves as me, which means, effectively, I'm paying at least twice as much as the rich per loaf of bread!

If basics were priced as a percentage of income (proof via the P60) and not an absolute value, then I'd feel much more friendly towards your comment that the rich already make a disproportionate contribution.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359537)

I'm confused as to your point - bread isn't taxed, and even with the existence of some fixed rate taxes, we still have income tax which is a progressive tax.

Whether overall the total tax paid works out as a progressive, proportional or regressive, I have no idea. However, I don't see how it could be the case where your tax rate works out as twice as much, or even more, than someone who earns twice as much as you, as you claim?

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359695)

If bread was priced at a proportion of a person's income, then the poor would do a roaring trade on the black market by buying up loads of bread and selling it to the rich at twice the price they paid for it, but less than the rich would have to pay. It's an idiotic idea that doesn't take into account the market value of bread.

Broadband of course cannot be bought and sold like this because it's a service, not a product, and the physical aspects of it (i.e. infrastructure) is tied to geography.

Disposable Income (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359739)

Someone on £500pcm has much, MUCH less of it than someone on £2000pcm. And the one on £2000pcm

a) pays the same tax on the first £500 that the poorer person does, so isn't paying more tax
b) has enough money to pay for an accountant to reduce or avoid taxes

Re:Big problem with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359767)

Disproportionate in that once they earn over 10 times the average salary, thereby skewing the RPI for the whole country and actually devaluing the money earned by average people... they have to pay a bit more tax?

It not as if they could've earned any of this without the Government allowing/aiding them to (only thing thats stopping highway robbery in the UK right now is the Gov/police) and no matter how much they earn and how much they get taxed, an increase in salary will always result in an increase in take-home money. They should STFU and be happy they're allowed to earn such immoral amounts of cash in the first place, and still receive protection from those they hurt.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359443)

Yeah, the idea of a fair tax, that's just *so* unfair!

Wait... What?

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359499)

He he he... don't get me wrong, I think it's fine that we're taxed to pay for this - I just don't think the tax is being applied in the right way. As it stands, this system of revenue collection means that everyone will contribute equally to the upgrading of the UK's broadband network. There are at least two problems with this: (1) We don't all benefit equally from the improved quality broadband - people in urban areas already have quality broadband, for example; also, telecommuting will be easier, which will disproportionately benefit large companies. (2) People who are less able to pay this tax are being forced to pay it at the same rate as people who are more able to pay it.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359549)

I don't buy the small/big company thing, it's purely a matter of sector, I've telecommuted for a number of small firms. If anything, they're more likely to support it, rather than being entrenched in the old ways.

As for the second, if you can't afford a 50p on broadband, you've probably got more important things you should be spending your money on than broadband. Is a rich person going to use their broadband more than a poor person? I'm paid a reasonable amount, and I work bloody hard to earn it: why should I be punished for deciding to make more of my life than sitting on the internet all day, paid for with the dole?

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359575)

Big companies have more employees, and are therefore going to get a bigger benefit, in total, than smaller companies.

And the point here is that this isn't a tax on broadband, but on phonelines - you pay whether you've got broadband or not.

It's a little confusing to introduce an "if you've got a phone line then you can pay an extra 50p" argument, or a "pay more tax if you use the internet more" argument. It's irrelevant. If you earn more money, you are better able to pay taxes. If you earn a "reasonable amount" then I doubt a progressive tax system would really effect you negatively. See http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=2 [statistics.gov.uk] - wealth is massively skewed in the UK, as it is in most countries. Most regular folks would be better off under progressive taxation policies.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359663)

Yeah, cos the alternative of getting off their arses and doing a hard days work is a horrifying anathema to them.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359715)

What?

I'm not sure where you live in the world, but in the UK it is very difficult to not go out to work - despite what some sections of the press would have us believe. Even long-term benefits like disability living allowance are being squeezed.

I am sure there are some people who don't want to go out to work, and play the system instead - but they are by far the minority. I don't see why it's any worse to not work and live off benefits than it is to inherit a huge amount of cash and live off that instead, while avoiding paying taxes by keeping your money off shore.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359765)

I don't agree with your first point. First of all, rarely benefits everybody equally (not directly, anyway); those that contribute less generally receive more. You wouldn't expect the highest earners and the unemployed to benefit equally from unemployment benefit, for example.

Second, I'm not sure large companies will be large beneficiaries of this scheme, since they tend to be based in urban areas. Small companies based in rural areas will find it much easier to remain in those rural areas and contribute to the local economy if the basic necessities are available to them.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359515)

There are lots of other taxes that are poll taxes (e.g., VAT). I guess the logic is "If you make use of something, you should help towards making it available for those who do not have it - but if you don't have it at all, you shouldn't have to pay at all".

And we still have income tax - so no, it hasn't become unfashionable to "tax the rich" all of a sudden.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359553)

VAT is not a poll tax. If you buy more luxuries, you pay more VAT (it's dabatable whether items such as adults shoes and Tampax are luxuries, but that's the idea).

I kind of see you point about having an obligation to make things accessible to others if you have access to things, but that's not what's happening here: everyone in the UK will be charged an extra 50p for their landline, whether on not they have broadband or not.

And yes, of course we have income tax: but over the past few years income tax rates in the UK have not changed in proportion to the vast increases, and concentration, in wealth.

Re:Big problem with this. (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359573)

Surely the problem here isn't that the UK government is trying to raise taxes to pay for something that has a massive social benefit, but that it's doing it via a poll tax?

I think the theory is that such a small levy will be "competed away" (see Lord Carter quote in this article [bbc.co.uk] ) and the people who will actually pay are the phone companies when they hand their monthly sack of 50p pieces over to the treasury.

However, while I'm sure that people who buy a line rental & calls package won't directly pay this levy, it will probably be paid by all the people (like myself) who want a minimal BT line for broadband, emergencies and those stupid fracking "local rate" 0845 numbers, and get all the outgoing calls they can eat from their mobile package and/or VOIP.

Maybe that's moderately fair?

Should the rich pay for your TV too? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359589)

Why should the rich - or anyone else - pay for your home entertainment? And lets not kid ourselves that broadband is a vital public utility up there with water and electricty , it isnt, despite what some vested interests may proclaim. Apart from a few home workers its mostly used for recreation. Why should we be taxed on that??

Re:Should the rich pay for your TV too? (2, Interesting)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359673)

The rich shouldn't pay for my TV or my internet. To reiterate: I wouldn't benefit if this tax was levied progressively; I'd end up paying more, in all likelihood. That's fair, because I'm more able to pay such a tax than a lot of other people.

I'm confused as to why people always think that progressive taxes will take money out of their pay packets. Wealth distribution is massively skewed and any fair taxation system would tax the richest and leave the regular people alone.

Re:Should the rich pay for your TV too? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359883)

What do you have against the rich? Are you jealous of people who work hard and so earn more money? Most rich people do not have inherited wealth , they worked damn hard to get where they are so why should they cough up for lazy bastards who can't be bothered?

Also in most countries the more you earn the greater percentage you get taxed so the richer people do pay more than the poorer. I'm not sure what else you want? Perhaps everyone to earn the same as in stalinist russia? Brain surgeon earning the same as a road sweeper , yeah , that made sense. Not.

So (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359305)

So let me get this right, they want everyone to have high speed internet, but they won't allow them to use it for its primary purpose?

Re:So (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359415)

They want everyone to have high speed Internet access to a) let them view information on Government webistes more easily and b) so that they can go "look - we're improving the nation and bringing our communications technology up to date". Beyond that it depends what they intend to do with protocol blocking - they may allow legal filesharing to continue (e.g. Linux distros) but they might be stupid (this is the Government, after all) and blanket ban filesharing because of copyright infringement.

What some in the UK think about this report. (3, Interesting)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359413)

A quick glance at http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/3994-the-digital-britain-report-is-finally-out.html [thinkbroadband.com] will show what some think of this and http://www.thinkbroadband.com/ [thinkbroadband.com] gives a wider view of ISP related moans with links to other ISPs information.

ISPs doing other people's dirty work? (3, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359431)

According to the article, the government is going to be getting the ISPs to do their dirty work for them, whatever we have as an RIAA/MPAA equivalent, and the police:

it will "place an obligation on ISPs to maintain records of the most frequent offenders, which would allow rights holders to take targeted legal action against these infringers."

Sounds like they're making the ISPs track down the sharers so that the rights holders can just cherry-pick from a list. Sounds like a bad situation for the ISPs to get in to with things like "common carrier" statuses.

Finally, ISPs will be roped in to protect copyright material, restricting bandwidth to known filesharers, and even blocking access to certain protocols entirely.

Again, looks like the ISPs aren't just going to be "carriers" any more. Could be quite a bad precedent (for the ISPs, at least). Also, what's the betting that a) the protocol blocks will be a blanket ban on BitTorrent, meaning that legitimate downloads (like Linux ISOs) will also be affected and b) they'll do it in such a way that's easily circumventable?

Where did we hear that before? (4, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359483)

Oh yeah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Service_Fund [wikipedia.org]

The goals of Universal Service are:
To promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates,
To increase access to advanced telecommunications services throughout the Nation,
To advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas.

We saw where that went.

2Mbits/sec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359529)

HAHAAHHAHA 2Mbits/sec. May be my country is corrupted but I get 30Mbits/s for 17$.

The correct way to proceed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28359579)

Government: ISPs, collect 50p per subscriber.
All ISPs: No.
Government: We'll fine you all and shut you all down!
All ISPs: So you're taking Britain off the Internet? Good luck with that.

Any ISP which gives in to the tax deserves it. Any customer which stays with an ISP which gives in to the tax deserves it.

Iran's got the right idea: when you don't like your government and an election doesn't work (or a leader assumes unpopular power without calling one, hello Brown), take to the streets. When veterans at Normandy respectfully greet those who formally shot at them but heckle their own leader, you know it's time for change. Yes, it's all rabble-rousing by the US to get a cruel American puppet from the '80s back in power (daft students don't remember him, I guess), but it works, doesn't it? :-)

This ISP mess is one symptom of a very big problem. As always, you get the government you deserve.

Will there be a tax for new computers too? (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359619)

Since theres now going to be a tax for the underclass and people who are too tight to pay for broadband themselves shall we assume there'll also need to be a tax for these people to be given computers to use on said service?

Brits love paying tax, so let them pay. (2, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359803)

Just yeterday NPR had a bit about some kind of tax in Britain called "the license fee" that runs for about 200$ a year for every TV set owned by the Brits. And the money apparently goes to fund BBC. Once you pay 15$ a month to get Brit version of PBS, why not 50$ for all of the internet at full speed?

Re:Brits love paying tax, so let them pay. (2, Informative)

Dominic (3849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359849)

It's not every TV, it's every household. If you own several TVs you just pay the one fee.

Anyway, I'd still happily pay twice as much if it keeps adverts out and generally stops our TV turning into some US-style brainless mess of right-wing nutjob shouting programmes.

Satellite internet not good enough? (3, Interesting)

slashbart (316113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359831)

In France you can get 3.6MB/s satellite internet for 40 euro per month [numeo.fr] . So why would you pull cables? Only hardcore gamers will be in trouble, ping times of 600 ms are typical. But then, keep the gamers in the city please :-)

Label the Carter Report 'defective by design' (1)

QuatermassX (808146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28359885)

The Carter Report is a fatally compromised blueprint for subversion that attempts to extend government control into a surprisingly vast array of areas.

1. Television. The existing licence fee is an outrage when the BBC via BBC Worldwide make heaps of money and yet refuse to make available their back catalogue for the benefit of the entire nation (well, they do but for a steep price). The report suggests we preserve the licence fee but siphon more off to commercial and quasi-commercial broadcasters?! Insane. Cut the licence fee in half, force the BBC to sell off some channels, let the broadcasters who can't afford to broadcast go out of business forthwith, open the iPlayer to ANY AND ALL who wish to broadcast through it (or just give it up to iTunes and Apple).

2. Broadband. Universal broadband is a terrific notion, but a telephone tax seems grossly unfair when there are MANY ways to extend high-ish speed internet access to the masses outside the M25. Why not refund the spectrum auction billions to wireless providers and compel them to build-out LTE so that it covers the entire nation? Is that any less insane than the current proposal?

3. Internet privacy. I well understand the government sucking up to Big Content, but surely we have learnt from Sarkosy's defeat in France that a three strikes law would be nearly impossible to enforce without some serious violations of one's privacy. But it's ok if ISP's snoop and not the government? Disgusting and typical of the Labour government that brought us nearly indefinite detention without charge, a national identity register and ID cards, etc.

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