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Broadband has become an essential commodity, according to Irish Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

Speaking at the Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin, he claimed that internet connectivity "is now as important for both employment and society as electricity has been for the last 60 years".

Mr Rabbitte said that despite the pressure on public finances, the Irish government will invest to ensure the more thinly populated areas of the country are not left behind.

"We will also do everything in our power to facilitate commercial investment so that speeds of up to 100Mb are offered to as many households as possible," he stated.

"Many urban homes can already access that sort of speed but we want to get the regulatory environment right, to strip away barriers to private sector investment and to encourage demand for higher bandwidth services."

The European Commission wants half of all EU citizens to have access to 100Mb broadband services by the end of the decade.

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