Brits: Internet tax would drive users off Internet, hurt low-income families

Last week's much-ballyhooed plan by the FCC to make high-speed broadband as ubiquitous as broadcast television and to create a nationwide emergency response network included floating an idea for a "national broadband fee" to help pay for the push. The "nominal fee" would cost every broadband user about $1 a month, said the FCC. While the fee has been cause for conversation here, a similar broadband tax being proposed in Great Britain has created a firestorm.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday vowed that all of the U.K. would have "super-fast" Internet by 2020, dubbing it "the electricity of the digital age." The  government--which is chasing a minimum 2 Mbps minimum speed to all U.K. homes by 2012--has proposed a tax on broadband that would cost the average broadband home about $10.58 a year, a number the Conservative Party says could chase more than 201,000 homes to give up their connections. A study of the economic impact of an addition tax said even an extra $2.10 a year could send more than 40,000 households offline.

"The phone tax is misguided, dangerous and unnecessary, which is why we have pledged to scrap it," said Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary. "The Government's own figures suggest that this tax will make the Internet unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of people and will especially penalize low-income families. This makes a complete mockery of Gordon Brown's boasts today about promoting universal access."

For more:
- see this Telegraph article

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FCC's broadband plan calls for higher speeds