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Equality of access and affordability must be key considerations as next-generation broadband is rolled out across the UK, it has been claimed.

Jillian Pitt, a digital expert at Consumer Focus, said that the digital divide between the broadband haves and have-nots is widening, meaning a more concerted effort is needed to deliver high-speed services to rural areas.

She said that at present, the market is largely delivering upgrades to affluent and highly-populated towns and cities, but this situation cannot continue.

"It is the areas being left behind that have the greatest need in terms of communication, access to services, and being able to compete commercially," Ms Pitt said.

"The government must ensure broadband is available to everyone regardless of location and income."

She claimed that the delivery of broadband access "cannot just be left to the market" if the Digital Britain vision is to be realised.

Last week, the Federation of Small Businesses claimed that improved broadband speeds are vital for companies based in rural areas.

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