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Up to one in four British citizens will not gain access to the 2Mb broadband promised by the government by 2012, it has been claimed.

According to national study of existing optical fibre links conducted by Vtesse Networks, roughly a quarter of the population live in towns or villages that are too far from BT exchanges to make such services viable.

Aidan Paul, Vtesse's Chief Executive, said it "does not make economic sense" for rural households to be provided with "next generation" networks under present rules and regulations.

He told a Conservative Party forum that between 20 and 25 per cent of British consumers would be left with existing connections unless further investment is made in Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

Earlier this week, telecoms firm Abica announced plans to provide FTTC broadband to more than 1,000 Scottish firms.

The company's joint Managing Director David Munro said the technology could make "a transformational difference" to the way businesses communicate.

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