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The British Government wants the UK to have the most "extensive and competitive broadband" market among leading industrial nations by 2005, it announced today.

The pledge, outlined in the report UK online: the broadband future, once again asserts the Government's commitment to broadband Britain.

However, the document launched by e-minister Patricia Hewitt and e-envoy, Andrew Pinder, is far more upbeat than could have been hoped for 24 hours ago.

Yesterday, culture secretary, Chris Smith, appeared to water down the Government's commitment to broadband when he told the FT that "we want Internet access for all by 2005 but that won't necessarily, even in a perfect world, mean broadband access."

Today, Ms Hewitt said she intends to spend £30 million to help address the problem of an urban/rural digital divide, where areas outside major cities are not included in the broadband map.

"We do not want a nation of have-nets and have-nots," she said.

"We are therefore announcing a new £30 million fund to ensure that a digital divide in high speed Internet access does not open up between urban and rural communities."

She also said that Government intended to help stimulate demand for, and interest in, broadband. Government also intends to use its massive buying power to in the regions to help stimulate demand for broadband services. ®

Related Stories and Links

The Government's report can be viewed here.
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