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Yesterday's Budget made it clear that having one of the fastest broadband networks in the world is a top priority for the government.

Chancellor George Osborne used his speech as an opportunity to pledge £100 million to help develop superfast broadband in Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and London and a further £50 million to help smaller towns across the nation.

The cash will be used to help ensure universal access to 100Mb broadband and will be focused on areas where private companies are less likely to invest.

"Two years ago Britain had some of the slowest broadband speeds in Europe; today our plans will deliver some of the fastest," said the Chancellor.

"But we should not be complacent by saying it is enough to be the best in Europe when countries like Korea and Singapore do even better."

However, some commentators have suggested that Mr Osborne's broadband promises are half-hearted and do not go far enough, especially in terms of what will be done to help boost broadband in rural areas.

Commenting on the Budget announcement, Julia Stent, Director of Telecoms at uSwitch.com, said that the funding earmarked for ultra-fast broadband in ten UK cities is "both ambitious and heartening" and also makes it clear that the government's intention is for UK broadband to compete on a global scale.

However, she expressed concerns that rural areas are being neglected in favour of focusing on cities, many of which already boast fast broadband speeds in many areas.

"Although there are still broadband blackspots and speed issues in some urban areas of the UK, we worry that the major towns and cities will speed ahead of the rest of the country in the premature quest to become fastest in the world," Ms Stent continued.

"The government's chief concern should be the provision of a service to those areas lacking decent broadband infrastructure before pursuing the likes of Korea and Singapore. Bringing an appreciable average speed to those in rural areas who have been forever languishing in the slow lane must be of equal importance."  

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