By: MarkJ - 04 January, 2009 (9:56 AM)
The UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has spoken exclusively to The Observer (Guardian) about new plans to help create 100,000 jobs through investment, including a rough statement of financial support for development of next generation superfast broadband networks.
The word "investment" crops up on numerous occasions in the article, often in relation to broadband, among other things. Industry observers would no doubt be quick to note that the government has consistently shunned any prospect of state (public) funding for such technology:
Brown suggested infrastructure such as high-speed broadband could be the modern equivalent of FDR's programme: "When we talk about the roads and the bridges and the railways that were built in previous times - and those were anti-recession measures taken to help people through difficult times - you could [by comparison] talk about the digital infrastructure and that form of communications revolution at a period when we want to stimulate the economy. It's a very important thing."
The overall programme will be funded by new money drawn partly from "reserves", though it's not yet clear precisely what that means. Similarly readers should take promises of investment with a big pinch of salt, at least until there is a statement of specific funding for next-gen broadband.
Naturally politicians should always be judged on what they do and not just what they say. We sincerely hope that the PM's proposals to investment in new broadband networks are correct, although history has taught us to be extremely sceptical.
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