Academic 'backs Tories on landline levy'

Professor Martin Cave has backed shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's plan to scrap the government's proposed landline levy for boosting future broadband growth.

Back in June, the Digital Britain report outlined plans for a 50p monthly levy to be imposed on all UK landlines to raise £175m for broadband infrastructure projects.

However, Hunt told the Financial Times that his party would shelve the proposal "as soon as possible" after winning the general election next year.

In a statement released today, Warwick University telecoms economist Cave expressed his support for Hunt's proposal and also called for more emphasis to be placed on drawing private investment into next-generation network development.

"The UK is by no means at the top of the pile when it comes to broadband quality, but it is leading the way in developing plans to improve its ailing infrastructure through the Digital Economy Bill expected to be published next month," said Cave.

"The only sticking point to this legislation is who should pay for the infrastructure upgrade. Large-scale fibre optic investment is essential to the development of super-fast broadband in the UK and government policy makers must resist introducing any sort of regulation that deters private companies from spending the money needed to upgrade the internet infrastructure.

"Few investments offer greater economic potential than expanding broadband access. Securing investment in high-capacity networks relies on a policy framework that supports investment. Those investing in new lines must be able to guarantee the efficient flow of traffic over the internet and charge appropriately for their services."

Last month, Cave published a report commissioned by Sky which attempted to demonstrate the "adverse effects" of Ofcom's proposal for tougher regulation of the pay TV industry.