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Businesses in the Highlands & Islands desperately need access to super-fast broadband services, it has been claimed.

Alan Rankin, Chief Executive of the Cairngorms Partnership, said it is vital for companies to be able to engage with modern consumers via social media, apps and websites.

"The importance of an area or a business being easily accessible to the customer is more important than ever before considering the increased competition and economic downturn," he stated.

"People are more selective with how they spend their money and are making last minute decisions on the move as to what to do, where to stay and where to eat."

As such, Mr Rankin said a business or destination "not pulling out all the stops" to engage with the visitor on every level will lose out.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is aiming to deliver fibre broadband to the region, and a rollout could start in 2013 if negotiations with BT are successful.

Last year, Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, described broadband speeds in the Highlands as being "a disgrace".

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