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A two-day conference exploring how rural areas can benefit from high speed Internet access kicked off today at Cisco Europe's HQ near Heathrow.

Organised by Access to Broadband Campaign (ABC), the conference has attracted 250 people from government, industry and the regional and rural broadband community to address how innovation can bring more affordable broadband to parts of the UK currently not served by ADSL or cable services.

Delegates are expected to discuss the issues affecting the development of broadband in the UK. They will also explore the scope for innovation and growth with all the competitive business and consumer advantages it brings.

In a "video presentation" Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael MP told delegates: "ABC has acted as an excellent catalyst bringing together public sector, industry, community and consumer interests in the broadband debate. [It] illustrates again how important it is to take a multi-stakeholder approach to overcoming problems of the digital divide."

E-minister Stephen Timms and Shadow Minister for Economic Affairs Michael Fabricant are also expected to address the bash. ®

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