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Fibre-optic broadband

Funding for the UK’s next-generation fibre-optic broadband network will come from a levy on landline broadband connections as well as revenue that had been earmarked for the digital television switchover, it has emerged.

The blueprint for equipping the UK with a cable broadband infrastructure was revealed today in the Commons in Lord Carter’s long-awaited Digital Britain report. The allocation of public money for the network is deemed to be necessary because it is not viable for providers to install cable in less densely populated areas.

Under the new measures, a new tax of £6 per year, payable on all fixed copper lines is to be introduced. Revenue collected by the scheme is to go into the Next Generation Fund, which will administer its spending in remote regions on the UK.

Further funding of £200 million, meanwhile, will come from the BBC license fee or so-called digital switchover surplus. This is license fee money left over for the digital television switchover.

Extra impetus for the construction of the network arrives in the form of incentives. These will see BT and Virgin Media granted tax breaks. As it stands, the companies are planning to provide a network to service 22.5 million households. However, 12.5 million would still be left without.

The report reads: "The government believes that the case is made for the desirability of such next generation networks being available to the large majority of the UK population.

“It is also persuaded that the economics of network deployment, whether fixed or next-generation mobile, mean that true super-fast broadband will be concentrated in the first two thirds of the market in the next decade, leaving the final third served only with current generation broadband. This would be undesirable."

The Digital Britain report also contained proposals which impel broadband providers to cut file sharing by 70 per cent. They are to be given 12 months to achieve the reduction.

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