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A review which looked at localised fibre-optic broadband internet initiatives found a great breadth of schemes up and down the country.

The Communications Consumer Panel's report shows that there is in excess of 40 such networks in operation, while conceding that the study was "not necessarily totally comprehensive".

According to Roger Darlington, a member of the independent body, the findings should have a bearing on the debate over the development of a nationwide next-generation broadband network.

He commented: "The various schemes are of very different sizes and at very different stages of development, but collectively they show a range of funding and business models, and various technical delivery options."

South Yorkshire's Digital Region initiative was singled out by the Communications Consumer Panel as a good example of how areas can equip themselves with the best broadband technology.

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