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The government has been accused of lacking strategy for the rollout of high-speed broadband services in the UK.

A House of Lords select committee has warned that many rural communities risk being excluded from digital services as speed is prioritised over coverage.

The panel of peers has called on the Con-Lib coalition to treat faster broadband as a key national asset, which should be available to all.

So rather than attempting to deliver Europe's fastest broadband by 2015, the government should be aiming to close the digital divide, the committee said.

Chairman Lord Inglewood said the government is "quite right" to make broadband a policy priority, as barely an aspect of UK life has not been touched in some way by the internet.

"A whole host of services will increasingly be delivered via the internet - including critical public services - and without better provision for everyone in the UK this will mean that people are marginalised or excluded altogether," he said.

"If broadcast services move to be delivered via the internet, for example, as we believe they may be, then key moments in national life such as the Olympics could be inaccessible to communities lacking a better communications infrastructure."

Lord Inglewood said the government's current approach lacks strategy, with the complex issues involved "not thought through from first principle".

"It is far from clear that the government's policy will deliver the broadband infrastructure that we need - for profound social and economic reasons - for the decades to come," he added.

But Liv Garfield, Chief Executive of BT Openreach, expressed surprise at the damning nature of the House of Lords report.

"If you look at it across Europe, we have fantastic coverage," she told the BBC.

"We are the most competitive market and we're seen by many other countries as being the people to follow in terms of broadband access."

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