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The Irish government has admitted facing a major challenge in rolling out high-speed broadband across the country by 2015.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said it would be difficult to achieve universal coverage in rural parts of the republic.

"Industry is telling us that by 2015 more than 50pc of the population will have access to very fast broadband," he said.

"We can also expect that most of the rest of Irish homes will be able to access broadband which, by today's standards, would be considered very good quality.

However, Mr Rabbitte said it will be a struggle to provide anything other than basic services to the remaining 15 to 30 per cent of the population.

This is because the case for commercial investment in rural areas is "very challenging", he stated.

Broadband adoption rates have increased significantly in Ireland over the last five years, rising from 437,000 users to 1.6 million since 2007.

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