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Majority Oppose UK Governments Next Gen 50p Broadband Tax

Posted: 01st Mar, 2010 By: MarkJ
uk broadband funding statisticsThe results from 561 respondents to our latest monthly survey have revealed that 74.3% do not support the Government's plan to introduce a 50p +vat per month tax ('Next Generation Fund') on all fixed phone lines. Revenue from the NGF (£175m per year) would be used to support the rollout of future broadband services to 90% of the country by 2017, with a focus on less profitable areas, such as rural locations.

Respondents to the survey were also asked which alternative solution they would prefer, which turned up some interesting results. The Tory plan to use part of the BBC's existing TV Licence fee (the 3.5% 'Digital Switchover' budget) gained the greatest single vote of support from 31.7% of respondents.
Do you support the 50p next gen broadband tax on phone lines?
No - 74.3%
Yes - 21.3%
What is that? - 4.2%


What is the best solution for funding next gen broadband?
Use part of the TV licence - 31.7%
Cut the fibre optic tax - 24.2%
Private investment only - 23.7%
The 50p phone line tax - 11.7%
I don't know - 8.5%


Do you think having a 100Mbps connection would benefit you?
Yes - 61.3%
No - 20.3%
Maybe - 18.3%
What comes out clearest is how the majority of respondents agree that next generation broadband will need some sort of support and cannot merely be left to the private sector. This could result in many rural areas being left without access to superfast broadband.

Concerns have also been raised about consumer demand for superfast next generation services, such as Virgin Media's 50Mbps cable product and BT Wholesale's new fibre optic based FTTC (40Mbps) and FTTH / P (100Mbps) technologies. However, when asked whether a truly superfast connection would benefit them, 61.3% of respondents gave a firm 'Yes'.

The most important point to remember about future broadband is not the headline (advertised) speed but its underlying infrastructure improvements. Today most of the country is still served by dated and slow copper cables, which is why average UK speeds are often closer to 4Mbps (Ofcom's April 2009 data) than the dizzy heights of 'up to' 20-24Mbps as advertised by many ISPs using existing technologies (e.g. ADSL2+).

Everybody should get a minimum speed of 12-15Mbps (FTTC) or faster with fibre optic based broadband services; not to mention significantly faster upload speeds. This would be a radical improvement. Sadly it could still take time for the affordability and coverage of such services to improve before they are seen as truly mass market products and that will require additional support, although for now the government's 50p tax solution is not favoured.

This month's new survey asks "How many GigaBytes do you download per month (pick closest)?" and questions whether consumers are happy with the real-world speed performance of their provider: VOTE HERE.
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