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Heavy investment in broadband infrastructure will make up a significant part of the newly-endorsed European Union Recovery Plan.

The EU hopes that every member state will enjoy 100 per cent access to a broadband internet service by 2010, with an emphasis on unconnected rural communities.

A sizable portion of the €5 billion (£4.6 billion) allocated for the Recovery Plan from the EU budget is expected to be diverted towards broadband development.

"The EU's Recovery Plan is all about smart investment - a short-term stimulus targeted on long-term goals," commented European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

"We also need to stimulate the European economy by providing information highways in rural communities"

The EC estimates that 30 per cent of Europe's rural population is currently without broadband access.

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