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The UK online gaming industry could soon be stifled if developers are not able to access faster broadband speeds, it has been claimed.

Keith Ramsdale, Electronic Arts' Vice-President for Northern Europe, said the sector has been "punching above its weight" internationally over the last few years, and is now coming under pressure from nations such as Canada and France.

Other countries not only offer attractive tax breaks to gaming firms, but in many cases provide superior web connections, he suggested.

And as web-based play continues to gain in popularity, faster broadband will be needed for UK firms to continue innovating, Mr Ramsdale told the Guardian.

"Getting 2Mb by 2012 is not quite ambitious enough. The broadband pipe needs to be a whole lot thicker and faster," he added.

Speaking at yesterday's Westminster eForum keynote seminar, Codemasters' non-executive chairman Chris Deering expressed a similar view, noting that "the rest of the world is catching up" with UK games developers.

He said the government needed to recognise the value of online gaming to the UK economy, and nurture it in the same way it has the domestic film industry.

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