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The gap between those consumers who can afford high-speed broadband and those who cannot must be closed by the government.

That is according to Consumer Focus, which found that while the internet is quickly becoming a necessity in households, a large number of homes still cannot afford the required equipment or connection fees.

Statistics released by the group today (May 8th) showed that more than three-quarters of families earning £30,000 or over had access to broadband compared to about a quarter of those with an income of £11,500.

Spokesman for Consumer Focus, Jonathan Stearn said: "If [the] government is to deliver on its promise for interactive services it must make sure everyone can truly access them.

"Having broadband in the area is important, but cables and wires are only the first step."

Mr Stearn went on to say that not being able to afford high-speed internet access puts people "increasingly at a disadvantage" as technology progresses.

Figures published by telecoms regulator Ofcom this week showed that there were 17.3 million home and business broadband connections in the UK at the end of last year.

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