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A new levy is to be introduced on every fixed telephone line in the country to help fund universal access to high-speed broadband across Britain.

Ben Bradshaw announced plans for the broadband tax among a raft of proposals as the government published its long-awaited Digital Britain report.

Speaking in the House of Commons today (June 16th), the newly-appointed Culture Secretary argued that an annual tax of £6 (50p-a-month) on all fixed phone lines would help deliver "next-generation broadband" to the whole of the UK.

According to the Digital Britain report, the tax would go towards an independent fund to provide subsidies for internet providers to offer 2Mb broadband deals to areas where it would not otherwise be cost effective to do so.

Compiled by outgoing Communications Minister Lord Stephen Carter, it estimated that without such funding, higher-speed broadband services would remain out of reach to one third of the population by 2012, regardless of consumer demand.

Meanwhile, Dr Stuart Burgess, Chair of the commission for Rural Communities, announced that the organisation is to launch a report later this month to set out issues relating to the provision of digital technologies such as broadband to outlying areas.

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