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High-speed broadband has become a must for all UK businesses, irrespective of their location, it has been claimed.

Clodagh Murphy, director of Eclipse Internet, said there will be "repercussions" for the economy if countryside-based firms are left without adequate broadband services.

She noted that small businesses are "the lifeblood of the UK", and the national broadband policy should reflect this.

"For the economy to grow we need to ensure that they have the tools to compete, regardless of their geographic location."

Ms Murphy suggested that the public and private sectors need to work together to introduce high-speed broadband in more remote areas of Britain.

BT and Virgin Media are currently investing heavily in fibre broadband, but are mainly targeting urban centres with high population densities.

A £530 million rural broadband fund has been established by the coalition, but it is doubtful that this will deliver universal high-speed internet coverage without external, private support.

Ms Murphy cited the ongoing broadband rollout in Cornwall as a good example of companies working with the local authorities to develop broadband infrastructure.

"A combination of public and private funding is enabling the rural areas in Cornwall to benefit from faster speeds and the latest technology," she stated.

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