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The House of Lords' push for the government to make its broadband proposals more ambitious could breach EU law, a peer has suggested.

Ministers had already pledged to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) that ensures everyone in Britain has a legal right to request minimum speeds of 10Mbps by 2020.

However, in a vote on the Digital Economy Bill, peers backed the idea of raising the minimum download speed to 30Mbps.

Lord Ashton, a government peer, responded by saying he finds it hard to see how the target "could possibly be compliant with EU law".

"The USO is a safety net to prevent social and economic exclusion - not a statement of ambition," he said.

"We are setting the minimum, not the maximum.”

Nevertheless, he insisted the government is keen to see much greater availability of fibre-optic connections across the country.

Lord Mendelsohn, the Labour peer who tabled the amendments to the Digital Economy Bill, acknowledged that the government has introduced measures to try and "move policy along".

Furthermore, he said some of the steps it has taken have been "very interesting and innovative".

However, he said "the very introduction of the Universal Service Obligation is an acknowledgement that they have not worked".

“Without the elements in this amendment, the Bill will add to that list of tinkering without success," Lord Mendelsohn added.

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