The UK government is moving ahead with plans to impose a fixed-line tax on all consumers to create a £1 billion (€698m) next-generation broadband fund for regional areas.
The fund, which was outlined in the Digital Britain manifesto last year, will be raised by a 50-pence duty on all fixed lines.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson launched a consultation paper today on how proceeds from the fund should be spent. “This investment is about bringing the future of broadband to areas of the country that would otherwise miss out. Already the market is delivering superfast internet speeds of 50 Mbps to half the country, but we cannot be certain that it will reach the communities that are not currently served."
The primary aims of the fund will be to support the aims of Digital Britain by rolling out next-generation networks to at least 90% of the UK by 2017, support market growth by incentivizing investment in communications infrastructure and to link with the government's program to ensure every community has access to a 2-Mbps broadband connection by 2010.
Carriers BT and Virgin Media are already rolling out competitive high-speed fiber networks.
In December BT confirmed a fiber network rollout to 10 million households by the summer of 2012, delivering speeds of up to 100 Mbps via fiber direct to the premises, and up to 40 Mbps via fiber to the cabinet, where the last leg is delivered over existing copper wire.
Carrier and telecom providers now have 12 weeks to respond to the consultation paper.
A government team will oversee the roll out to rural areas once decisions about who gets it have been made.