Tories called out on broadband pledge

The Conservative party has unveiled plans to slice off a portion of the BBC TV licence fee to fund 100 Mbps broadband across the UK by 2017, should the comms industry fail to deliver of its own accord. The levy, thought to amount to around £130m, is currently earmarked for digital switchover,

The Conservative party has unveiled plans to slice off a portion of the BBC TV licence fee to fund 100 Mbps broadband across the UK by 2017, should the comms industry fail to deliver of its own accord.

The levy, thought to amount to around £130m, is currently earmarked for digital switchover, and Labour had previously said it would be used to fund news broadcasting after switchover is complete in 2012.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne made the pledge during a BBC interview at the weekend.

But Labour treasury minister Stephen Timms said the Conservatives were "playing catch-up", while the Liberal Democrats accused them of playing fantasy economics.

The Tories also hinted that BT would see its role as owner of the UK's communications infrastructure broken up, allowing other firms to own and manage their own fibre, a move likely to benefit players such as Carphone Warehouse.

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