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Tories mock PM for broadband pledge

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Tony Blair has pledged to end the "digital divide" by 2008 - if the Labour Party wins the next election. Speaking at his party's conference in Brighton, the Prime Minister delivered ten things a "future Labour third term can do for Britain's hard-working families".

Said Mr Blair: "Our country and its people prospering in the knowledge economy. Increasing by £1bn the investment in science, boosting support to small businesses and ending the digital divide by bringing broadband technology to every home in Britain that wants it by 2008."

But critics have pointed out that this broadband pledge is almost meaningless since DSL coverage is currently in excess of 90 per cent already and set to grow still further over the next ten months.

Last month BT announced that it was extending the reach of DSL so that an extra million lines currently connected to a DSL-enabled exchange are able to get broadband. Coupled with BT's earlier announcement that 99.6 per cent of its telephone lines will be able to get broadband by the end of July 2005 as part of its roll-out programme, it means that by next summer 99.4 per cent of UK homes and businesses will be able to get DSL if they want it.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party scoffed at Blair's broadband pledge saying: "This is one [promise] they'll [Labour] definitely meet because someone else is doing it for them." ®

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