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UK’s key role in digital revolution ‘needs improved government planning’

Britain's position as a leading player in the digital revolution is under threat because of poor Government planning for state-of-the-art infrastructure, a report has found.

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More than 90% of companies view internet access as essential, but the Government is not doing enough to strengthen the UK’s digital network within a fiercely competitive global marketplace, according to manufacturing body EEF.

A survey of 128 companies revealed that half of firms claim connection costs have risen in the past two years, while more than 50% say their current connectivity will not be fit for purpose over the next five years.

EEF has called on the Government to press the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for a plan to tool-up businesses with an internet connection which can compete with other nations leading the charge in digital innovation.

It has also urged the NIC to review the competition for business broadband.

Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist, said: “Manufacturers need best in class provision if Britain is to take advantage of the next industrial revolution and government cannot afford to think it is job done.

“While the quality of networks isn’t currently an issue, companies are paying inflated sums to have proper access and are fearful they will not have competitive access five years down the line.”

According to the study, two thirds of manufacturers have made investment in technology and innovation a priority this year.

It also said more than half of companies needed access to online data through cloud computing every day.

Ms Hopley added: “The Government should urgently reverse this trend and come forward with concrete steps to ensure the UK has a modern business environment that enables us to outperform in the digital race.”