GREAT NEWS for anyone planning to go abroad and stop communicating with people: the latest budget has seen the government add 20 percent tax to the cost of using your phone overseas.
This is such the opposite of all the positive things that have happened in the direction of roaming charges for almost as long as we can remember, but then, of course, there's that Brexit thing which means that European roaming laws may not apply to us anyway.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said that he planned to "introduce UK VAT on roaming telecoms outside the EU in line with international standard practice".
The European Union is planning to phase out roaming charges across the board, but who gives a hot damn about that. Not us. Britain and its fully bent banana fans voted to quit all that shit last year.
If you were Labour trying to pick holes in this budget the NICs rise is a 'white van man tax' and VAT on phone roaming is the 'holiday tax'— Jon Stone (@joncstone) March 8, 2017
The EC has proposed a maximum of €0.04 per minute for a call, €0.01 for an SMS and €0.0085 per megabyte of data. The changes are important, because sometimes people get quite unreasonable bills for making a few calls, and at other times absolute mooncalves get massive bills because they go as far away as the Dominican Republic, for example, and realise that they cannot survive without Top Gear on the iPlayer.
"Commission action on roaming prices has delivered for European consumers," said Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society last autumn.
"Today's draft rules ensure we can end roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules."
This all reflects pretty badly on Hammond, but the Budget did make some positive noises in the direction of modern communications, announcing a £500m investment into things including 5G, robots and driverless cars.
The good news is, we found someone who can criticise that.
"The Chancellor is also right to invest in 5G technology, which was one of the main themes of last week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona," said Patrick Imbach co-head of KPMG tech growth.
"However, with Ofcom, the UK regulator, wanting 5G to arrive by 2020 and operators still looking to make a return on their 4G investments you would need to question how much of an impact £16m will have?" µ
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