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Millions of homes and businesses across the country are struggling with unacceptably slow broadband speeds, MPs have warned.

According to a cross-party report by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), 5.7 million broadband customers currently have connections that fall short of Ofcom's acceptable minimum speed of 10Mbps. The majority of these - approximately 3.5 million - live in rural locations.

The report states that this is costing the UK economy in the region of £11 billion a year. BIG pointed out this is happening despite the fact that £1.7 billion of taxpayers' money is going to BT to improve web connectivity across the country.

The report has therefore suggested that BT and its Openreach subsidiary be separated into two entirely independent companies, as this would end their "natural monopoly" over Britain's broadband infrastructure and lead to greater investment and innovation in the market.

"Whilst rural SMEs and consumers are left with dire speeds, or even no service at all, Openreach makes vast profits and finds little reason to invest in the network, install new lines or even fix faults in a properly timely manner," the report stated.

BIG went on to state that while the UK should be leading the world in the field of digital innovation, it is still relying on "outdated" copper technology.

The report therefore insisted that the country must start converting to a fully fibre network in order to keep up with other nations who are "rushing to embrace digital advancement".

However, it said this can only be achieved if action is taken to open up the sector to more competition.

"Given all the delays and missed deadlines, we believe that only a formal separation of BT from Openreach, combined with fresh competition and a concerted ambition to deliver, will now create the broadband service that our constituents and businesses so rightly demand," BIG added.

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