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Labour has called on the Con-Lib government to reassess its plans to rollout universal broadband.

The opposition, which describes universal broadband as "a key economic and social utility", wants to see the coalition speed up its internet development programme.

In the final months of Gordon Brown's administration, which ended in April 2010, Labour pledged to deliver nationwide 2Mb broadband by the end of 2012.

However, upon assuming office, last May, the Con-Lib coalition claimed that funding for the plan was never in place, and the network completion date would need to be pushed back to 2015.

Labour said it is unacceptable to leave almost a fifth of the UK without high-speed broadband for another three years.

The party explained that the European Commission is committed to guaranteeing all EU citizens high-speed broadband by 2013, and the UK is set to miss this target.

Ian Lucas MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Industry and the Digital Economy, noted that universal broadband is "not simply a useful tool for households".

He claimed it is "essential" to the ability of the UK to stay competitive and achieve strong growth.

"Areas with universal broadband access are more likely to attract investment due to the key infrastructure for competitiveness and growth being in place," Mr Lucas stated.

"This is a major national infrastructure issue like the road and rail networks, and will define how well Britain can compete in the international market."

He said the government urgently needs to tell thousands of businesses and households when they can expect to be equipped with access to the high-speed service they require.

"The problem is most acute in rural areas, which on average have less than half the speed of urban areas," Mr Lucas noted.

"Rural areas need to diversify to continue to be competitive, but this hinges upon being able to use online communication and resources."

Earlier this month, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the coalition is looking to provide super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of the UK by 2015.

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