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The growth of broadband in Europe is outpacing the take-up of high-speed Net access in the US, according to report out by the EU. In the year to January the number of people and businesses accessing the Internet at high speed grew by more than 80 per cent.

And according to Eurocrats, the fastest adoption of broadband has been in those countries where competition has helped increase the number of broadband operators and driven down price. Said Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for the Information Society and Enterprise Policy: "Wider, faster access to the Internet is essential to deliver the full promise of the Information Society.

"We have seen impressive rates of growth, particularly in some of the larger Member States such as France and Italy. But the momentum needs to be maintained, particularly by ensuring competitive markets and the right regulatory conditions for investment."

While Mr Liikanen is keen on competition and the private to deliver high-speed services, he accepts that there remains a role for the public sector when markets fail to deliver the necessary investment. As a result, Member States have drawn up their own "National broadband strategies" designed to address issues such as increasing coverage of under-served areas and steps to stimulate demand. ®

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