With the UK's new yearly budget, the government will introduce a 20% tax on top of all roaming charges outside of the EU. The UK's Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced a number of changes for the tech industry as part of the yearly budget. Among these was the controversial announcement that the government would start charging a 20% tax on top of the base roaming costs to bring the country "in line with international standard practice."
Roaming charges have been a topic of controversy in recent years, with many claiming that the charges are too high, so the announcement of an additional 20% tax will surely not please many. Initially, these charges will only be applied to countries outside of the EU, possibly due to the fact that the latter is working towards eliminating all roaming charges by June 2017. Unfortunately, though, nothing has been said about what will happen to roaming charges in the EU once the UK leaves the market in 2019 as scheduled. Now, although the government will be introducing a 20% tax, it's currently unknown how much of the increased cost will be offset to customers and how much of it will be absorbed by the UK's network providers. It's likely that these details will be announced shortly, but for now, nothing has been confirmed.
Aside from the new tax, not all was bad for the tech industry. The government announced an investment of £500 million to be spread across the tech industry. More specifically for robotics, AI research and even 5G networks. Undeniably the importance of AI and robotics is constantly increasing, so investments into these areas are likely to future-proof the UK's tech industry. Looking at 5G, the network is undeniably the next big step in the mobile market, so guaranteeing network research is sure to please many, especially UK network providers. Although 5G networks are likely to appear in the US first, the UK shouldn't be too far behind. With 4G, the technology initially arrived in the US market back in 2010, with the UK launching its network in 2012. It'll remain to be seen whether this time gap will be reduced with the next generation network, but for now, though, the inclusion of investments into the network is surely a good sign for the industry.