VOA to meet industry over tax on wireless and fibre networks


VOA to meet industry over tax on wireless and fibre networks

Ian Grant

The government's Valuation Office Agency is to meet communications industry representatives in the next few weeks to discuss the application of business rates taxes to wireless and fibre networks.

The moves follows an ongoing debate about both the fairness of the rates levied and the wisdom of applying them, especially to remote or community-run networks.

Wi-Fi and Wimax network operators have been invited to meet the VOA on 24 February, and the Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG) and the VOA will hold a workshop on 1 March at which the VOA will discuss how it will rate different network architecture proposals.

The Conservative Party has vowed, if it leads the next government, to review the application of business rates to fibre networks, where, it says, BT pays £15 per fibre pair per kilometre compared to other operators who must pay £500 for the first fibre pair they light.

Wi-Fi network operators earlier condemned plans to levy a tax of up to £100 per wireless hotspot per year. Any tax would make some community Wi-Fi networks unviable, but their Wi-Fi links were the only broadband access they had, they said.

BT hopes to have a million hotspots in the UK by March. The Cloud, BT's closest rival, has 22,000 hot spots in the UK and Europe,

A VOA spokesman said hotspots have always been taxable, but that it had difficulty contacting the network operators to discuss the matter.

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