The Government is to spend £830 million in a drive to give the UK the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.
An action plan entitled Britain's Superfast Broadband Future, published by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, sets out the ambition to create a "digital hub" in every community in the country by the end of this Parliament (see the Cheap Broadband guide).
Linked to the nearest exchange by high-speed connections, the hubs would allow communities to extend the internet network to every home.
Hunt says the plan aims to stimulate private sector investment and cut barriers to business investment in the reliable and secure superfast network which ministers regard as vital to the UK's economic growth.
Ministers will invest £50 million in a second wave of pilot projects to test how digital hubs can be extended to all communities, including those in remote rural areas.
Already, more than 70% of UK households have broadband and nearly 50% have access to a superfast 50 Mbps service.
Hunt says: "A superfast network will be the foundation for a new economic dynamism, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and adding billions to our GDP.
"But it is not just about the economy, around the world there are countless examples of superfast broadband helping to build a fairer and more prosperous society, and to transform the relationship between Government and citizens.
"And shifting government services online will save billions of pounds of taxpayers' money.
"We want the UK to have the best broadband system in Europe by 2015. Our strategy, backed by a £830 million government investment, will help deliver that by stimulating private investment and competition."
Rural Affairs Secretary Caroline Spelman says that rolling out superfast broadband to the countryside was "probably the single most important thing we can do to ensure the sustainability of our rural communities in the 21st Century".
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