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The government has issued its strongest signal yet that Britain will not be allowed to fall behind other nations in the installation of super-fast fibre networks for broadband.

As predicted, minister for competitiveness Stephen Timms told the Broadband Stakeholder Group on Tuesday that he will chair a "high-level summit" later in the year to discuss public sector involvement in building the networks.

"I see it as one of my highest personal priorities that we have a high-performance telecommunications infrastructure in every part of the country, enabling us to compete successfully on a global basis," he added.

"Other countries are starting to invest in new, fibre-based infrastructure, delivering considerably higher bandwidth than is available in the UK today."

Earlier this year, the BSG called for the networks - already commonplace in several Asian nations and currently being widely installed in French cities - to be built in the UK soon.

While acknowledging that fibre technology was still "at a very embryonic stage", the BSG report nevertheless called on industry watchdog Ofcom to implement a financial framework for the networks to encourage investment in them from UK companies.

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