The Senate recently approved a $7.10 a month broadband tax for residential and business users of non-National Broadband Network (NBN) services.
This tax will begin from 1 July 2020 and will subsidise the bills of people connecting to NBN’s loss-making fixed wireless and satellite technologies in regional areas.
According to AusDroid, 5G mobile operators like Telstra support the broadband tax, principally because it excludes mobile services and should give them a pricing advantage:
Telstra and Optus, as operators of the two currently operational 5G mobile networks, support the proposed RBS broadly, and unsurprisingly oppose any reform of the RBS to include mobile services because they plan on heavily promoting 4G/5G home and business broadband services.
Much of the rest of the telecommunications industry, particularly NBN-comparable networks such as TPG and OptiComm (that will be subject to the RBS) oppose the RBS either largely or entirely.
It is worth pointing out that both the Productivity Commission (PC’s) and ACCC recommended against funding universal service obligations via levies like the broadband tax, instead arguing that general budget funding is more appropriate.
For example, here’s the recommendation from its 2017 Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation report:
The Australian Government should fund targeted measures to meet telecommunications universal service objectives principally through general government revenue rather than an industry levy. This would imply the ultimate removal of the Telecommunications Industry Levy.
Ultimately, this levy is anti-competitive and relies on taxing a relatively small number of non-NBN fixed line customers, rather than the community as a whole, in order to improve broadband services in regional areas.
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