Australia’s Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee has recommended that the government pass proposed legislation that would introduce a tax to help subsidise rural National Broadband Network (NBN) connections, according to ZDNet Australia.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in December 2016 the state announced plans to create a new Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) to raise approximately AUD40 million (USD32 million) per annum to help pay for the expansion of the NBN in rural areas, via a new levy on non-NBN-based telecommunications companies. If approved, the scheme would see broadband network operators outside of the NBN programme pay AUD7.30 for each fixed connection in the first year, rising to AUD8.00 per connection by 2022. Exemptions would be granted for telcos with fewer than 2,000 customers as well as operators such as major providers Telstra and Optus, which are transitioning their networks to the NBN, but the levy could hit firms such as TPG and Opticomm.
Now, in its report to Parliament on the matter, the Committee was cited as saying: ‘The committee considers it is critically important to establish a scheme for adequately and transparency funding the much-needed infrastructure for rural and regional Australia that cannot be provided on a commercial basis. Of the various options available for funding these non-commercial services, the proposed RBS most clearly fulfils this objective.’