Manufacturers of all sizes are paying excessively large amounts for broadband connectivity, a trade body has warned.
According to research by EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, 25 per cent of small companies and half of medium-sized firms are paying more than £5,000 per annum for high-speed internet access.
In addition, 89 per cent of larger manufacturers were found to be paying this amount every year.
Figures from the body also revealed that half of companies have seen an increase in connection costs over the last two years.
Money is being invested in broadband connectivity as 91 per cent of companies consider it a vital utility comparable to water and electricity.
This is partly due to a growing reliance on cloud technology, as more than half of companies need access to online data every day.
Furthermore, a similar proportion were found to use internet-connected sensors and automated machines every week at least.
But while two-thirds of manufacturers feel their current connectivity is acceptable at the moment, more than half are worried that it might not be adequate for their future needs.
EEF has therefore called on the government to ensure the National Infrastructure Commission devises a strategy to ensure Britain consistently delivers "internationally competitive internet access" to businesses.
Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at the group, commented: "Decisions taken now on internet connectivity will have a critical bearing in the near future on whether or not Britain is a leading player in Industry 4.0. To date, most of the focus has been on future household internet access despite the economic returns from better internet connectivity being higher if businesses are prioritised."
She insisted that manufacturers need best in class provision if the UK is to take advantage of the next industrial revolution and added that the "government cannot afford to think it is job done".