Thousands of internet users are facing a ‘broadband tax’ that could add $84 a year to some household and business internet bills, a federal opposition MP claims.
Labor communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland believes a proposed $7.10 monthly per-premises charge to fixed-line broadband providers is a sign the economics of the government’s multi-technology national broadband network have deteriorated.
‘It is telling that in the week of the federal budget the Turnbull government is seeking to pass a broadband tax that is seeking to raise nearly half a billion dollars over the next decade,’ she told parliament on Wednesday.
Legislation was introduced to parliament last year that would allow the government to recover the cost of building and operating satellite and fixed wireless networks by charging providers of fixed-line services.
NBN Co is expected to lose an estimated $9.8 billion over 30 years in providing broadband to regional, rural and remote Australia.
Urban Infrastructure Minster Paul Fletcher said at the time the fee was already embedded in pricing for NBN customers, but it would be up to other carriers to decide if they pass on the charge to their customers.
Ms Rowland said the levy was ‘highly regrettable’.
‘This levy is expected to add $84 to the annual broadband bill of home and businesses on non-NBN networks subject to this tax,’ she said.
Between 240,000 and 450,000 customers could be affected, she said.
The legislation allows an exemption for small carriers for the first 25,000 premises for five years and a review in the first four years.
The relevant minister could also change the base amount based on the advice of the competition and consumer watchdog.