ISP Association attacks government over fibre rates

The ISP Association has accused the government body that sets business rates for broadband networks of showing a 'complete lack of understanding' of the matter.The attack on Friday followed the government's U-turn on making rates more favourable to small ISPs that want to deliver fibre-based next-generation access networks.

The ISP Association has accused the government body that sets business rates for broadband networks of showing a 'complete lack of understanding' of the matter.

The attack on Friday followed the government's U-turn on making rates more favourable to small ISPs that want to deliver fibre-based next-generation access networks. That policy reversal was revealed by communications minister Ed Vaizey last week.

After its meeting with Vaizey on Monday last week, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which operates under the auspices of HM Revenue & Customs, issued revised guidelines which cut the fibre rate for new next-generation access providers to £20 per premise connected.

However, according to ISPA, the VOA's methodology "may be more expensive for FTTC [fibre-to-the-cabinet] networks that have already been deployed and... does not allow for models to be developed outside of those adopted by the incumbent operator [BT]".

"ISPA regretfully notes the complete lack of understanding required to help the development of small scale broadband networks within the UK and is disappointed at the adoption of this short term thinking, especially when businesses are looking for help from government in attracting inward investment in infrastructure projects," the association said.

"Rather than boosting small scale projects, the changes to calculations announced increase (in some cases by a factor of 10 times) the costs for a small scale community project which is in contrast to government's previous statements on this issue."

ISPA again urged a review of the new rating system — as promised by the Tories before the election, but abandoned afterwards.

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