For American readers this is probably a bit of an ordinary day - you go about your business and there's every chance that when you wake up tomorrow things will be much the same as they were when you woke up today. In the UK that's not the case. In the UK the chancellor of the exchequer (the head of our Treasury department, or its equivalent) has been delivering his annual budget speech.

Not all of the changes are IT-specific of course, but one caught my eye. He's promised that by 2012 there will be ubiquitous fast broadband in the UK.

OK, we can take it as read that what counted for fast broadband ten years ago pretty much already is in the UK, and what counts as fast by 2012 won't count as any great shakes a decade later. This sort of pickiness aside, I do wonder who's going to pay for all this.

It's worth noting that many of our phone lines over here are years old. Granted they're not quite Victorian but neither are they as shiny or adaptable as many of their counterparts in America. And yet apparently we're going to upgrade the lot over the next three years.

This is of course going to cost money. Although our higher taxes are going up, I can't see how they're going to end up paying for even half of this. Contrary to what several wise voices in the press will tell you, nobody's certain exactly how long this recession is going to last. We've been overinflating the world economy for quite some time and are now paying the price. America and the UK are among those countries which have put a lot of resource into addressing the shortfall, propping banks and industries up. It's not been pretty and it'll need paying back.

And here we are talking about spending more on an infrastructure which, although not the whizziest or shiniest in the world, actually does the job for which it was designed pretty well.

I can't see how this is going to be affordable. I'll look forward to being proven wrong. I hope.

About the Author

Author, 'This Is Social Media' (Capstone Publishing 2009); freelance journalist in the UK for the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Independent and others.

Yeah same situation here in New Zealand. Our new government has promised a fast broadband, but I too am struggling to see how they can pay for it. Sure, NZ and UK are both smaller geographically than the US, but it's still not cheap to lay fibre everywhere and update the 30-40 year old exchange equipment. But man do we need it!! Wait an see....

Well the market is doing a good job there is a company laying fibre through the sewage system. In my opinion private enterprise will easily be able to pay for because it is a product in demand. The trick to surviving in a bad economy is to be small and agile and provide a no frills low cost product. Which means isp's such as BT, Virgin, AOL should lose some custom to the competition who take pride in the fact all they sell you is the internet. Thank god we have LLU or this would not be the case.

Also high finance is based on real value. While we find the real value of property is not what it was priced at, in this "information age" this kind of infrastructure should hold its value, making it a worthwhile investment.