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Many companies are not informed of the realistic average speed they can expect to recieve as part of a business broadband deal.

That is according to Paul Lawton, managing director of Warrington-based, TalkTalk-owned business broadband provider Opal.

He has highlighted the huge difference that the distance from an address to an exchange can make to the speed of an ADSL broadband connection.

Mr Lawton commented: "Broadband speeds are affected by a number of factors and one of the most important is the distance of your building from the local telephone exchange.

"The further away you are, the slower your broadband connection is likely to be, but many providers still do not make this clear when selling the product, meaning potentially thousands are being misled."

A recent Opal report recently revealed that Manchester is one of the cities leading the way with business broadband, with one-third of the city's firms now having access to speeds up to between 8Mb and 24Mb.

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