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Governments around the world must provide stable regulatory structures if they wish to encourage investment in broadband technology, it has been claimed.

Hamadoun Toure, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, told an audience in London that the private sector must be encouraged to spend on network developments if faster speeds and greater levels of coverage are to be achieved.

He described ICT and broadband as "the decisive factors for the development of all industries".

"Encouraging private companies to develop infrastructure helps create profits and jobs," Mr Toure said.

"Just as mobile technology dominated the last decade, so broadband technology, particularly mobile broadband, will dominate this decade. But the growth in mobile networks would never have happened without investment from enterprises."

In the UK, BT and Virgin Media are currently investing significant sums upgrading their national internet infrastructure.

BT, which revealed this week that 15 million UK households rely upon its network for their web access, is spending £2.5 billion upgrading local telephone exchanges to support high-speed broadband.

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