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According to Ofcom's Consumer Panel, the areas which receive BT's 100Mb fibre-to-the-home network first should be those that have been 'bypassed for broadband'.

The advisory group's chairwoman Anna Bradley conceded that this strategy could prove to be more costly, but said that it was necessary to prevent the development of a 'digital divide' in the UK.

Public services, such as education provision to remote communities, should also be among the first to benefit from the super-fast network, the Panel suggested.

Ms Bradley commented: "If we are imaginative and use a mix of private and public business models, we could provide a way for consumers who are excluded from first generation broadband to leapfrog straight to the next generation."

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that as well as many UK households not having a reliable broadband connection, 35 per cent had no web access at all.

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