The government has pushed back its planned date for providing the entire nation with a minimum broadband connection speed of 2Mbit/s.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the Broadband Delivery Day event in London today that the financial viability of such a scheme is not possible before 2015.
"I have looked at the provision the government had made to achieve this by 2012, and I am not convinced that there is sufficient funding in place," he said.
"So, while we will keep working towards that date, we have set ourselves a more realistic target of achieving universal 2Mbit/s access within the lifetime of this parliament."
However, Hunt used the event to call on the industry to work together in delivering high-speed broadband to as much of the population as possible, and give the UK "the best superfast broadband in Europe and be up there with the best in the world".
"Before we embark on legislation or commit public resources, we need to explore cost-effective ways of achieving our aims, so I want to hear from companies about their proposals and willingness to work towards mutually beneficial commercial arrangements," he said.
Hunt outlined his vision of utilities and telecoms companies working together on the laying of fibre when roadworks are taking place.
The minister also welcomed Virgin's and BT's moves to improve their broadband infrastructures with faster speeds and increased coverage.
Sean Royce, commercial director at internet service provider KC, which supplies a large rural area in Hull, told V3.co.uk that the government's announcement was a surprise.
"There was quite a bit of shock in the room when that was announced. It's vital for UK Plc that we get the broadband infrastructure up to speed and get almost 10 million people currently excluded online," he said.
"We will certainly be working closely with Broadband Delivery UK to give our expertise on the best ways to ensure broadband reaches everyone, and infrastructure sharing could be one of these ways. But at the same time it must not stifle innovation."
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