Industry fears high business rates could stifle broadband

Representatives from industry and the public will meet the Valuation Office this week to negotiate a reduction in the business rates levied on new optical...

Representatives from industry and the public will meet the Valuation Office this week to negotiate a reduction in the business rates levied on new optical fibre networks.

The present rating system is described as "the biggest single barrier to joined-up investment in low-cost resilient UK broadband" networks, by Philip Virgo, spokesman for Eurim, a parliamentary-industry discussion group.

Writing in his Computer Weekly blog, Virgo said the system deters private investment and blocks the use of partnerships to expand broadband networks that serve communities.

The Broadband Stakeholders Group, a group of vested interests dominated by network equipment suppliers and operators, is setting up a new body, COTS (Commercial, Operations, and Technical Standards), to look at the Digital Britain recommendations on network interoperability standards.

It hopes these standards will allow community broadband networks to access national core infrastructure networks run by BT, Virgin Media and other large network operators.

This would spread and possibly lower the cost of rolling out fibre to more homes more quickly, and help meet the government's target of a 2Mbps connection in every home by 2012.

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