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The government is backing the introduction of super-fast broadband across the UK by launching a next-generation fund.

It is hoped that rural and hard-to-reach areas will benefit from a share of £1 billion of investment, which has been set aside to ensure 90 per cent of the country has super-fast broadband access by 2017.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has launched a consultation on how the funding should be spent and said that hopes are high everyone will benefit from high-speed internet services.

"Areas with little or no broadband provision are likely to benefit from the investment with ministers determined to ensure that homes and businesses in hard to reach communities are not left behind," he explained.

Earlier this week, broadband provider Easynet Connect suggested that the provision of high-speed internet services would be key to ensuring businesses can enjoy the latest IT innovations, such as cloud computing.

A study by the firm found that half of all small businesses in the UK plan to use cloud-based systems this year.

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