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The Prime Minister has spoken out in defence of the government's ongoing rural broadband rollout.

David Cameron said criticism of the £530 million scheme - which is designed to deliver universal broadband coverage by 2015 - is "slightly unfair".

Concerns have been raised in some quarters over the slow rate of progress on broadband coverage in the countryside, particularly as fixed and mobile speeds have soared in urban areas.

Other criticisms have related to the tender process for deployment work, with just two service providers - BT and Fujitsu - named as approved bidders, the latter of which eventually dropped out of the running.

Speaking to the liaison committee of select committee chairs, the PM claimed that significant progress was being made on the delivery of broadband services in the UK countryside.

"As we speak today, the rural broadband programme is reaching 10,000 extra premises a week," he explained.

"If you stand back and look at it, three years into government, when we came to power, there was virtually nothing going on with rural broadband."

Mr Cameron said the Con-Lib coalition now has a "realistic programme" to reach 95 per cent of premises by 2017.

He claimed this figure could reach 99 per cent by the following year, ensuring almost the whole of the UK can access fixed-line broadband services.

However, Mr Cameron said it was possible the government may revisit the decision only to award deployment contracts to BT.

"If we get stuck, we should be prepared to look at all possibilities of course," the Prime Minister stated.

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