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Ofcom has released a new report investigating ways in which broadband providers can service older and disabled customers.

According to the report, which was commissioned by the communications regulator's Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People, companies in the telecoms sector must attempt to reach a wider audience.

The main obstacle to greater technology access was identified as a lack of knowledge by internet service providers and other firms of the requirements of older and disabled people.

Research also indicated that more dialogue and cooperation is needed, as well as a "systematic and proactive" approach to the design of products and services.

Mike Whitlam, Chairman of the committee, said: "With an ageing population and many of us developing an impairment at some point in our lives there are also market opportunities and commercial prizes for firms that get it right."

The research suggested that unless more is done to encourage these users, the economic downturn and increased commercial pressure could limit the extent to which the broadband industry is able to address the demand for universal access.

This is all the more pressing considering that Ofcom recently reported that broadband is becoming a fixed part of domestic living in the UK.

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