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A Conservative government would encourage the private sector to develop a national high-speed broadband network, according to the Shadow Culture Secretary.

Jeremy Hunt told a debate at the London School of Economics that telecoms companies would be encouraged to take the lead in providing super-fast broadband services, initially to major cities and then rural areas, as reported by the Guardian.

His party would take a "tougher", market-driven approach towards the provision of the necessary broadband infrastructure, he claimed, allowing it to abandon plans for a 50p-a-month tax on all households with a fixed line.

The Conservative Party have frequently spoken out against the government's plan to fund a new national network, claiming it could force some low-income households to abandon their internet connections altogether.

Mr Hunt claimed that once telecoms firms are charging for premium super-fast broadband in the cities, they will be well-placed to fund a national roll-out of the technology.

The need to prioritise speed and economic stimulus would be evident in any Conservative policy on broadband development, he noted.

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