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Broadband access is now seen as a fundamental right by 80 per cent of the global population, a new study has indicated.

Research conducted by BBC World Service across 26 nations indicates that consumers in both highly-networked and broadband-deprived countries believe they should have access to internet services.

Dr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, told BBC News that "the right to communicate cannot be ignored".

"The internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created," he commented.

"We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate."

Last year, Finland made broadband access a human right to be enjoyed by all citizens, becoming the first country in the world to do so.

From this July, the government will be obliged to provide 1Mb broadband to all citizens in the Scandinavian nation.

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