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A new Ofcom paper has highlighted four key challenges for broadband provision in the UK.

In its Infrastructure Report 2014, the communications regulator said the overall availability and quality of broadband services is "getting better" in Britain.

However, it believes further progress is needed on the rural rollout, city not-spots, availability for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and ultra-fast broadband in particular.

In terms of national coverage, Ofcom noted that the government and industry are "looking at a range of options" that might provide super-fast broadband to the ‘final five per cent’ of UK premises.

"While this is technically complex and expensive, it is important that these remaining homes and businesses are not left behind," the regulator stated.

But Ofcom stressed it is not just rural areas that require network upgrades, since many parts of major urban centres - including central London - also have poor super-fast broadband coverage.

"City not-spots are generally caused when there is no street cabinet to upgrade, because a customer has a direct connection to the local telephone exchange," Ofcom explained.

The regulator noted that broadband providers are looking at ways to take fibre closer to the customer where there is no cabinet.

Following on from this point, Ofcom highlighted the fact that a lower proportion of SMEs have super-fast broadband access compared to UK premises as a whole.

It said this needs to be addressed, in light of the important contribution small businesses make to the UK economy.

"Looking further ahead, industry and policy makers are considering what networks are needed to support speeds of 1Gb, commonly referred to as ultra-fast broadband," Ofcom added.

It said the UK is seeing some early deployments, and more consideration is needed on how to build on this.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive at Ofcom, claimed that digital infrastructure is "crucial to the UK’s future".

He said that, as a country, the UK is continuing to make real progress, particularly in the rollout and take-up of super-fast broadband and 4G mobile services.

"But there is more to be done," Mr Richards added.

"We need to continue asking whether collectively we are doing enough to build the infrastructure of the future, and to maintain the competition that benefits consumers and businesses."

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