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BBC Licence fee to replace broadband tax

New broadband minister will oversee roll out

The new coalition government is expected to adopt proposals initially put forward by the Conservatives which will see some of the money generated by the BBC Licence Fee used to fund the roll-out of superfast broadband.

The decision to take the funding from the broadcaster would come as part of a move by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to replace Labour's plans for a 50p per month 'broadband tax'.

That tax would have been taken as part of people's phone bills.

Don Foster, a former Liberal Democrat spokesperson, told a media industry conference in London that the proposals would soon become policy, according to the Independent.

However, the government has yet to confirm the plan. Ed Vaizey, who has been appointed as the new broadband minister, will be responsible for the roll out.

At the event, Foster reportedly added that "the BBC is going to have to cough up for broadband rollout".

It is the first time that money from the licence fee has been used to fund anything other than the BBC, the newspaper said.

The BBC trust said it looked forward to discussing the move with the governemnt.

The broadband rollout will also be funded by telecoms firms.

Last week, BT said it would invest a total of £2.5bn to roll out fibre optic connections to two thirds of the UK by 2015.

Simon Piper from Consumerchoices believes the proposal is a good idea. However, he said it's likely the Licence money "will only be used as a top-up in rural areas where broadband providers fail to see the commercial benefit of expanding their networks".

"This solution is certainly preferable to the blanket 50p per month tax on telephone lines put forward by the last government," he said.

"Nevertheless, the new government needs to ensure the whole country is actually receiving minimum of 2Mbps broadband before upgrading existing  equipment and infrastructure. Everyone in Britain should also benefit from a diverse, competitive market for broadband services whether they live in cities or the heart of the countryside."

See also: Gov't to appoint new broadband minister?


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