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It appears more likely that proposals for universal broadband will be a major feature of the Digital Britain report, due to be presented by Lord Carter later this month.

In a speech made yesterday (Wednesday, January 14th), the communications minister continued the theme previously touched on by prime minister Gordon Brown, who sees a next-generation broadband infrastructure as vital for the UK economy.

"Today we are way beyond the view that broadband is a niche product, it is an enabling and transformational service and therefore we have to look at how we can universalise it," the Guardian quoted him as saying.

"We have to ensure that fairness and access for all is more than a soundbite in a manifesto."

Last year, Mr Brown pledged a £300 million investment to ensure school children have internet access at home.

According to schools minister Jim Knight, the initiative is necessary to help youngsters who would be at an educational disadvantage without high-speed internet access.

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