The Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG) is seeking clarification from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) of the business rate tax rules the VOA would impose on next-generation networks. This will allow potential investors to work out their risk and return on investment more accurately.
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Anthony Walker, director of the BSG, said the group had presented the VOA with a number of scenarios in which network operators might supply high-speed network access. He said he hoped for a response by mid-October.
The tax has been described Philip Virgo, spokesman for Eurim, a parliamentary-industry discussion group, as the biggest stumbling block to the roll-out of competitive, high-speed networks under the government's Digital Britain policy.
The UK and Ireland are the only countries in Europe to levy a tax on business properties.
Sources close to the VOA said the VOA would like to know precisely what network operators were making from renting their infrastructure to network resellers. This is because the VOA works on the rentable value of business assets.
"This is commercially sensitive information, which network operators don't want the VOA to know, especially because of its failure to comply with even basic information security standards," said one.
Audit firm Deloitte reported recently that the VOA failed to meet any of six government security rules for protecting information and its exchange. The government subsequently classified the report as restricted.