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Investing large sums of public money in super-fast broadband for rural areas represents "the wrong focus", according to one broadband provider.

Andrew Heaney, Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation at TalkTalk, said that while his firm "wholeheartedly supports" the Universal Service Commitment - providing the funds necessary to equip the whole of the UK with 2Mb broadband - the tough economic climate cannot be ignored.

As such, he questioned the government's decision to invest a further £300 million in rural broadband infrastructure, on top of the £230 million already set aside.

Mr Heaney said that demand for broadband services tends to be lower in the countryside. So while it may cost upwards of £1,000 to hook each home up to next-generation broadband, only ten or 20 per cent of consumers may actually subscribe to enhanced broadband deals, he suggested.

"We think the funds should be focused on 'digital inclusion' - helping the ten million of our fellow citizens who do not use the internet to start using it and enjoying the benefits it delivers," he added.

Last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that additional finance would be set aside from the BBC licence fee to help fund rural broadband investment.

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