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The new government has failed to take the action necessary to increase high-speed broadband penetration rates in the UK, according to a former Labour cabinet member.

Lord Carter, who, as Communications Minister, was responsible for penning last year's Digital Britain report, has criticised the Con-Lib coalition for its decision to scrap the 50p per month landline levy.

Labour devised the tax as a means of funding infrastructure development in rural areas, where private sector broadband providers see no business case for offering web services.

However, the proposal was dropped soon after David Cameron entered 10 Downing Street in May.

"The proposed landline levy wasn't perfect, but it was a targeted solution for a very specific need," Lord Carter commented.

"That need isn't going to go away. The answer is going to need to be found at some time by somebody."

He also criticised the government's decision to push back the timescale for providing nationwide 2Mb broadband speeds from 2012 to 2015, saying progress cannot be made unless ministers are willing to take seemingly "unreasonable decisions".

The Con-Lib coalition, which is in the process of instigating public sector spending cuts, said it could not afford to fund the project in the short-term and would need more time to achieve this goal. 

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