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The European Commission is to share £20 million in funding between 13 fibre-optic broadband research projects, it has been revealed.

EU finance is being made available to support the photonics initiatives, which are geared at delivering faster download speeds to end broadband users.

Teams of scientists will work on new broadband techniques as they bid to create fibre networks capable of supporting 1Gb download speeds.

At present, the fastest broadband speeds available in the UK are the 100Mb achievable on Virgin Media's fibre network, which launched in December 2010.

Neelie Kroes, the Commission's Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said she was "very happy that research on technology relevant to delivering super-fast internet speeds to the homes and businesses of 500 million Europeans is taking off".

"Such technology could have a crucial role to play in meeting Europe's broadband needs far into the future," she claimed.

Last year, the European Commission pledged to deliver 30Mb broadband across the EU by 2010.

The body also committed to provide universal broadband coverage across the 27-nation member bloc by 2013.

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