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High-speed broadband has become an essential utility in the same way as water and electricity, it has been claimed.

Tim Johnson, Chief Analyst at Point Topic, claimed that broadband is making a major difference to people's lives, and the majority can no longer do without it.

"It is a major utility," he told, noting that any homes which do not have it will be seriously hampered.

As such, Mr Johnson highlighted the importance of delivering nationwide access to high-speed broadband services.

The UK has often been criticised for making slow progress on the rollout of next-generation network infrastructure - particularly in rural areas.

However, Mr Johnson said it is important to compare the speed of delivery in Britain to that of similarly-sized nations.

"What the government should probably do is compare itself just with the larger European countries", he suggested.

"Small countries like Malta have got it relatively easy to spread broadband, and the UK is not really competing with them. But the UK is already ahead of France and Italy in terms of super-fast coverage and close to Germany and Spain."

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