Leader: Being well-connected essential in this digital age – The Scotsman

Continued investment in infrastructure is essential to ensure that Scotland is as well-equipped as it possibly can be to grow and prosper when economic recovery takes a more certain hold.

Sometimes this infrastructure can be a lot less tangible than, say, a second Forth crossing, but just as vital to business and people, as is the case with digital broadband connectivity.

According to Reform Scotland, a think-tank, the cost of making Scotland properly digitally connected is about £200 million, or a tenth of that of a new Forth crossing. Such calculations need to be regarded with scepticism; the history of the information technology industry is littered with stories of projects which ran grossly over budget.

Nevertheless, in an age when more and more commerce is conducted over the internet, the need for Scotland and Scots to be well-connected cannot be disputed. The difficulty is in knowing how this should be paid for, particularly in remoter rural areas where the benefit of a broadband connection to the individual may be high, but the costs of providing that connection are much greater than in populous cities.

An answer may come when we know more about such costs on an individual basis. If they are small then a system akin to that of the postage stamp may be acceptable. If higher, then government intervention may be necessary.