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The UK's super-fast broadband rollout is taking too long, the Culture Secretary has warned.

Speaking in Cambridge, Jeremy Hunt said the UK is in danger of trailing the rest of Europe on fibre broadband unless the industry works together more effectively to achieve common goals.

He claimed that disputes between rival broadband providers are threatening to derail the network development programme.

Mr Hunt referred specifically to the standoff between BT and Fujitsu – which wants to construct a fibre broadband network in rural areas - over the pricing of underground duct and telegraph pole rental.

"Physical infrastructure access has to be sorted out – and quickly - in a way that allows fair competition with different providers able to invest in our broadband infrastructure," he stated.

BT is set to publish its wholesale pricing structure this month, but rival broadband providers are likely to dispute the tariffs set.

This would force Ofcom to intervene, with no resolution one way or the other until mid-2012 at the earliest.

"I am a strong believer that competition is the biggest driver of investment both at the retail and infrastructure level. But I do not believe the market is working as well as it should," the Culture Secretary added.

"We need to ensure we do not make the same mistake in broadband that we made in railways – building our high-speed network 45 years after the French and 62 years after the Japanese."

The government has pledged to deliver a minimum of 2Mb broadband to all UK communities by 2015 – and is investing an initial £530 million improving high-speed internet access nationwide.

But the Con-Lib coalition has also pledged to create the most advanced super-fast broadband network in Europe – a promise it is keen to avoid reneging on.

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