The internet could be 100 times faster than it is today if a new £7.2m six-year research project, the Photonics Superhighway, is successful.
University and science minister David Willetts said the investment will see scientists from the universities of Southampton and Essex working with industry partners BBC Research and Development, Fianium and Oclaro develop new materials and devices for optical fibre networks.
The future internet would have to be based on optical fibre to meet an annual 80 per cent growth in traffic driven by applications such as internet television and cloud computing, said project leader Southampton professor David Payne.
Willetts said the internet was "fundamental to our lives" and that Britain had to ensure that the web infrastructure could continue to meet demand for it.
The UK internet industry was worth an estimated £100bn, so it was in the country's interest to make it even better for businesses and help boost economic growth, he said.
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