Bread, roses and broadband too?

The growing ‘techlash’ against Silicon Valley has opened up debates about the questions of ownership and control in the digital economy. But little attention has been paid to the role of the underlying digital infrastructure that enables flows of data, from fibre cables to mobile masts.

This infrastructure is essential not just because it allows people to gain access to the internet (to find a job, to secure welfare benefits, for kids to do their homework, for elderly people stay in touch with relatives) but also because it will underpin essential services, such as smart energy grids, transportation and e-health and tools for participatory democracy.

While there is a growing consensus that digital connectivity should be treated as a common good, like water or roads, private providers have failed to meet infrastructure targets.