Seems that once again, one of the most highly taxed nations on Earth, is about to suffer yet another tax. This time everyone who has a landline will pay Â£6.00 a year extra tax. And they will pay VAT on top of that. All landline subscribers will have to pay, regardless of whether they use the internet or not.
Granted, the so called Broadband Tax is small compared to many of the others that UK citizens have to endure and the scheme is correspondingly shabby and cut-price when you actually look at the figures. The aim is for 2Mbit/s line to 90 % of households by 2017 – which will seem decidedly third-world by then.
If one studies the scheme in more detail then it becomes clear just how shabby it really is…
- 10% of households will still not have broadband by 2017 even if the scheme is a success – which is doubtful.
- The 2 MBit/s is notional. The lines are likely to have 50:1 contention meaning that real speeds could be considerably slower.
- 90% broadband by 2017 seems very third-rate compared with France’s “Haut Debit Pour Tous” or “Broadband for All” which it plans to have in place by 2012. http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/f…ans/2009-12-09
- The tax raised, approximately Â£170 million, is chicken feed. To put this in perspective, it is just over a tenth of the Â£1.5 billion that the taxpayer is paying in bonuses to the senior execs of the failed City of London banks this year.
- Meantime, our national telecoms provider, British Telecom PLC (AKA BT) reckons it actually needs Â£5 billion to do the job properly.
Much of the blame for our hopeless telecoms system actually rests with BT in the first place. This is a highly privileged profit-making company, born out of Margaret Thatchers privatisation programme in the 1980s. Since then, it has become both a laughing stock and a national disgrace. BT is just as arrogant as it was when it was the GPO but with none of the public service ethic. It was clear in the mid 1990’s that our communications infrastructure was woefully inadequate. Yet BT once again put its short term profits before the long term needs of its customers and did as little as possible to rectify the situation.
Meantime the Government & its toothless watchdogs watched it all go pear-shaped but did nothing to stop it. Now, if we had a Government that actually stood up to useless greedy corporations such as BT, then it would legally compel BT to sort the mess out at its own expense. If BT failed to do so in a timely manner, then the Government could deploy a number of fairly major sanctions against it, for example:-
- Sackings, heavy fines or even prison terms for BT’s senior board members who failed to meet their legal obligations.
- Renationalise BT perhaps by confiscating the stock holdings of its major shareholders.
- Break up BT and allow its competitors to operate key areas of its business. Of course, competitors who took over BT’s businesses would face similar sanctions if they failed to deliver. This is to avoid another recurrence of Virgin Media Syndrome, i.e. “So what if we’re rubbish? We’re not as bad as BT, so there’s nothing you can do about it!“
Now that would get my vote!
Real problem though is the Government has run out of money. It won’t actually say what it squandered on Iraq and Afghanistan, but it runs into billions. Added to which, Brown’s chronic mismanagement of the economy and particularly the banking sector has meant that cash that should be used for improving our nation’s crumbling infrastructure is being wasted propping up failed banking corporations (and paying their senior execs yet another Â£1.5 billion in bonuses). The financial services fiasco is currently costing an average of Â£5,500.00 to every family in the country and could rise to a staggering Â£40,000.00 in the near future.
Yet Brown and his hapless buddies at Fiascos R Us er, I mean the British Government continue to squander vast sums of our money. For example, MP’s of all parties still have their greedy, slobbering snouts very heavily embedded in the proverbial trough as they continue to submit their highly dubious expenses claims. Who can blame them? Brown’s much publicised clean-up, like so many of his policies, was as useless and ineffective as he is.
This means there are no water-tight guarantees that the money will actually go where it should anyway! Still, I guess an additional Â£170,000,000 would clean a heck of a lot of moats and buy an awful lot of new duck houses, flat-screen TV’s, flats for your relatives, porn videos, second homes, scatter cushions etc. etc. etc. A fact that many “Honourable” Members of the House have convincingly proven already!
Worse, it’s only 10% of what’s being donated by the taxpayer this year in order to pay the bonuses of those poor old failed-bank executives in the City of London. Now I foolishly thought it would be nice if we could use some of that money to update our Broadband provision rather than introducing yet another tax. But then I realised that we can’t have the poor little lambkins in the City going without their brand-new Porsches now, can we?
Of course, if we have a change of Government next year, then the Broadband Tax will probably be dropped anyway.