Alexander unveils next steps to broadband Britain

Government minister urges small enterprises to take advantage of tax breaks, which could cut fast Internet bills by 20%.

E-commerce minister Douglas Alexander has set out a package of measures to advance broadband Britain and urged businesses to take up government tax breaks which could cut more that £50 off a typical £260 broadband connection bill.

He also published the government’s response to the first report by the Broadband Stakeholders’ Group, established to advise the government on the further steps necessary to facilitate the rollout of broadband services across the UK.

The government’s strategy includes measures to intensify competition in the broadband infrastructure and service markets and to clarify existing tax measures, which encourage teleworking and undertake joint government-industry marketing to stimulate new broadband content and applications.

The government’s strategy is also said to include encourage the use of broadband in delivering public services such as education; and to encourage the rollout of broadband in rural areas through infrastructure sharing, facilitating satellite broadband roll-out and effective management of the public sector’s procurement of broadband services.

Small enterprises can reportedly claim 100% first year allowances on their investment between 1st April 2000 and 31 March 2003 on the capital costs of getting connected to broadband.

‘Too many people in the sector don’t realise that there are a number of relevant initiatives including tax relief on establishing and maintaining broadband connections, that also apply to employers paying for connections at employee’s homes,’ said Mr Alexander.

He added: ‘The government has accepted the approach of the Broadband Stakeholders Group – indeed we have accepted 14 of the group’s 15 recommendations.’

The strategy includes the establishment of a pilot Broadband Brokerage service, in the East of England initially, which will allow companies, public sector organisations and individuals to collectively broker their demand for broadband services.

‘The next phase involves much detailed work on implementation and turning concepts such as public aggregation procurement into reality on the ground,’ said Jim Norton, Chairman of the Broadband Stakeholders’ Research Group. ‘The skills of the Broadband Stakeholders’ Group participants in the detail of business change will be made available to support these crucial developments.’

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