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Companies operating in rural areas will encounter continued difficulties if they are not hooked up to high-speed broadband, it has been claimed.

Speaking to the Witney Gazette, south-east MEP James Elles said a lack of coverage is having "serious impacts" on both the home and business environments.

"This is directly affecting the prosperity of the country and, unless action is taken, this presents a severe risk for the future competitiveness of the county," he stated.

"It is unacceptable that we expect businesses to operate without the necessary basic infrastructure to be competitive in today's world, never mind tomorrow's world."

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey recently claimed that the government is committed to bringing super-fast broadband to new areas of the country, where private sector internet service providers are unlikely to deliver it.

The coalition wants to see super-fast broadband provided to the countryside at the same time it appears in towns, he commented.

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