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The government has awarded £7.2 million in funding to a new ultra-fast broadband research project, it has been reported.

David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science, has pledged the money to the 'Photonics HyperHighway' project at the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre.

The project is geared at developing new materials and strategies to increase internet bandwidth, in the hope that faster broadband deals could follow in the future.

Professor David Payne, Director of Southampton's ORC, said now is the time to look ahead to develop the UK infrastructure of the future.

"Our ambition is nothing less than to rebuild the internet hardware to suit it to the needs of 21st-century Britain," he commented.

Prof Payne noted that traffic on the global communications infrastructure continues to increase by 80 per cent each year, driven by rapidly expanding and increasingly demanding applications such as IPTV.

"What this project proposes is a radical transformation of the physical infrastructure that underpins these networks," he added.

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