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The finger has been pointed at BT after the telecoms giant announced the locations for the first part of its fibre-optic cable broadband project.

BT plans to provide access for ten million homes with speeds of up to 60Mb by the year 2012.

As the first areas lucky enough to be earmarked for the upgrades were announced, Onyx chief executive Neil Stephenson noticed that the north-east had been largely ignored.

The broadband ISP head told Newcastle's Journal newspaper: "I'm disappointed that BT didn't think the north-east was strategically important. We could get a digital divide between the haves and the have-nots - we will be a have-not for a while.

"I don't know any businesses that are willing to use technology less, so it's really important – you only have to look at the government's view of the economy and where we are right now, it is protecting all the sunrise industries."

Established in the UK, Onyx claims to be the leading broadband ISP in the north-east.

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