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Widespread availability of broadband in the Europe is vital to the continent's ability to stay at the forefront of the business world, one minister has suggested.

Lord Stephen Carter, communications minister, has told the European Council meeting on the Electronic Communications and Networks Framework in Brussels that broadband is the "crucial underpinning" of Europe.

He went on to say that dialogue between nations on the subject was "critical" and called for the metaphorical digging of trenches in order to ensure "universal access".

Lord Carter commented: "Europe needs to consider how best to ensure universal availability and access, not just by connection but also by device, to affordable broadband internet, which is already a central service for millions of people across Europe.

"It is crucial to the way many of us go about our lives and daily business, and increasingly the means of delivering good public services cost effectively."

A report prepared for the government this year relayed that the private sector could be expected to foot the bill for the UK's own next-generation broadband transformation.

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