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A new international report has highlighted the importance of broadband to people's quality of life, with it describing this connectivity as an essential utility.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development's latest annual report on the state of broadband access around the world found that a growing number of countries are recognising this, with more governments now setting benchmarks for their national broadband strategies.

Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), commented: "Broadband infrastructure is vital country infrastructure, as essential as water and electricity networks. The data analysis and policy recommendations contained in the 2018 State of the Broadband report come at a crucial time when internet access is more important than ever before."

The report noted that around half of the world's population currently use the internet, with this being mainly in more densely-populated urban areas. However, the report noted that considerable investment will still be needed to bring this vital connectivity to more rural areas. Last year, the ITU estimated it would cost $450 billion (£385 billion) to bring connectivity to the next 1.5 billion people.

In the UK, the government has spent several years working to bring superfast broadband to 95 per cent of premises, and is now turning its attention to rolling out full-fibre services.

It is looking to complete this move and switch off copper netwoks by 2033, but several business groups have called for the transition to be made faster, by 2025 or soon after.

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