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General Category => Blog => Topic started by: kat on June 24, 2010, 04:38:00 PM

Title: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on June 24, 2010, 04:38:00 PM

So broadband tax has been "abolished" in the first budget of the newly hobbled together Coalition Government in the UK. Rather than linking to other gaming and news websites, it's best to read what George Osborne actually said. So to quote from the PDF of his recent Budget speech;

But the previous Government's landline duty is an archaic way of achieving this, hitting 30 million households who happen to have a fixed telephone line. I am happy to be able to abolish this new duty before it is even introduced. Instead, we will support private broadband investment, including to rural areas, in part with funding from the Digital Switchover under-spend within the TV Licence Fee.

Reading between the lines, and depending on just how much of the needed investment comes from private sources, as well as looking into the Orbs eye (to predict your future young adventurer), what's going to happen in  coming years is the eventual appearance of a two-tier internet - the one we have now, and a faster, 'better' one, the result of all this private funding. If you want to know what this means take a look at BT and how it still has a vice like hold over the telephone network infrastructure, the prices we are charged for the various services we use are a direct result of that - of which both consumers and ISP's have been long complaining. It's also not coincidental that the Government still has a big stake in BT being one of the major stock holders in the 'private' company.

Fast forward a few years to this privately funded 'new' network and we'll likely find the same, or very similar, situation play out whereby other third party network operators will have to pay a premium for access. This will filter down to users as perhaps higher subscription fees, advert predominate content, or even  only certain types of high volume material being available - websites and/or information that generates large volumes of traffic, an Internet 'Walled Garden' if you will, to use a phrase oft' cited in relation  locked out networks and services.

I'm always a bit wary of Politicised 'rhetoric' when it comes to the Internet and access to it, Osborne's few words reveal a much broader, long term picture we should be aware of because its likely to have repercussions on gaming, content creation and game development, certainly when 'money' is exchanging hands - who's to say that anyone wanting to 'sell' something over the new network wouldn't be liable for a fee to do so, AppStore does it, Steam Network does it, so to do a myriad of distribution channels. Would  broadband network providers then be justified in saying just what type of material gets onto the network because it is theirs after all.

All speculative musings, but something that bears thinking about, especially when taking into account the wider context of Net-Neutrality and the constant 'fight' going on with regards to that.

[Edit to add] There's a bizarre twist to this whole 'internet tax' issue in that, beleave it or not, the World Health Organisation (WHO)  published a report in Dec 09, on Public health, innovation and intellectual property:Report of the Expert Working Group on Research and Development Financing which put forward a proposal that there should be a "digital tax or “bit” tax" (pg 9, sec. 22, para 2) to help fund the Organisation;

22. Indirect taxes involve a small tax being imposed on specified products or transactions and could potentially raise very significant amounts of revenue. Examples given include the following:

• digital tax or “bit” tax: Internet traffic is huge and likely to increase rapidly; this tax could yield tens of billions of US dollars from a broad base of users;


So although Osborne's "abolished" a landline tax in terms of it being levied by the current UK Government, does this still leave the door open to the WHO 'obliging' signatory nations to implement said same just under their auspices.

In other related news, America's first official intellectual property enforcement strategy wants 50   dedicated FBI agents to tackle the problem of piracy and IP theft according to the Independent.

The creation of a task force in the Justice Department to investigate and uphold   the Digital Millennium Copyright Act includes new federal attorneys and FBI   agents focused on combating domestic and international IP property crimes.

The full Joint Strategic Plan to Combat Intellectual Property Theft can be read on the White House website. Of particular note is a mention of "fair use", it's not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but there had been concerns over the task force being heavy handed when it came to  DMCA matters.

The Obama Administration has always embraced the free flow of information, online collaboration, and fair use by average citizens, which are also helping   to advance our society and economy every day -- this strategy does not target   legitimate and legal activity. [White House blog]

Related: Two tier Internet - Net Neutrality has been hoodwinked

Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: ratty redemption on June 28, 2010, 01:45:05 PM
interesting article kat :)
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on June 28, 2010, 03:35:40 PM
Yes, very. To put a bit more perspective onto this issue, in particular the WHO's Internet tax proposal. The UK charity sector as a whole earned approx. 52 billion in 2009 (http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/About_us/About_charities/factfigures.aspx). So earning those "tens of billions" from a Global Internet Tax is completely unnecessary as there is already more than enough 'charity' money floating around to pay for what they need.
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: ratty redemption on June 28, 2010, 06:15:07 PM
wow, good point and not very clever of them to risk loosing public sympathy for their legitimate charities.
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on July 22, 2010, 01:45:30 PM
BT are apparently going to be putting up prices by 50p/m in Oct this year (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/broadband/359578/bt-puts-up-line-rental-prices).. which coincidentally was when the Gov broadband tax was to be introduced, and at the same rate.
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on August 26, 2010, 04:13:58 PM
Yep can confirm, got a letter about this the other day. BT are increasing line rental (and other) charges from Oct by 0.50 pence a month. I think TalkTalk are also doing the same. Hardly coincidental after the Gov decided to drop the scheme. Cell/Mobile phones don't get off the hook either as it was recent;y announced that providers would be charging users for net access based on bandwidth (iirc). So Net access may be being indirectly taxed anyway.
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: ratty redemption on August 26, 2010, 08:56:11 PM
kat, are these companies definitely handing over that extra income to the government or just keeping it for them selves? either way not good imo.
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on August 26, 2010, 10:28:10 PM
That.. is the $6 million dollar question. ;)
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: ratty redemption on August 26, 2010, 11:46:09 PM
hehe ;)
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on March 17, 2011, 01:04:38 PM
Two interesting articles in PC Pro (UK) today wortha read;
As a lot of the users comments point out, we're already paying for 'level-of-service' usage as most ISPs have 'bandwidth' based packages already (BT has Option 1, 2 and 3). It seems the industry is trying  justify profit gains that wouldn't require them to actually address the fundamental issue over the old decaying infrastructure (phone lines).
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: ratty redemption on March 17, 2011, 04:49:19 PM
wow, that first article sounds very bad for us brits, and i agree with the comments about cleaning up spam at source to cut down on wasted traffic, and also why should we in effect pay more to watch video ads on websites? if anything those damn ad companies should be charged more, not the consumers.
Title: Vaizey most lobbied minister
Post by: kat on April 28, 2011, 03:51:57 PM
Ed Vaizey, the UK Govern-mental minister for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, holds the future of the Internet in his hands, hands it would seem that are, if not being greased, are certainly being soften with lobbyist hand lotion (it puts the lotion in the basket!).

According to "Who's Lobbying" Vaizey had just shy of 150 meetings with "Rights Holders (http://whoslobbying.com/uk/ed_vaizey)" (duplicate references possible) [article via PCPro (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/367036/rights-holders-make-vaizey-most-lobbied-minister)]. Looking at the list, there only seems to be a handful of organisation from 'our' side of the fence - the IGDA (http://www.igda.org/) (TIGA) is there, Rebellion (http://www.rebellion.co.uk/), Eidos (http://www.eidos.com/) and maybe a smattering of others (although the latter two will likely be representing themselves as 'rights' holders being game developers and/or publishers). But a good 95%+ appear to be 'lobbyists' in one form or another, so called 'rights' or 'stake' holders - music, film industry reps for 'rights' holders, BT and other infrastructure reps for 'stake' holders.

What's actually striking about this is what it reveals regarding the workings of what is or will be, public policy; it all goes on behind closed doors without consulting the people who would be at the receiving end of the stick, us, there are no 'people representative' groups in the list, so much so that not even the ubiquitous Which? or BBCs 'WatchDog' are present, both self appointed bastions of consumer concern.
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: ratty redemption on April 28, 2011, 05:07:18 PM
disturbing but interesting, and was that a 'silence of the lambs' reference kat?
Title: Re: Broadband Tax (landline duty) abolished
Post by: kat on April 28, 2011, 05:47:53 PM
Yes.. lol