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Insufficient investment in broadband infrastructure could put the UK at a competitive disadvantage.

This is the view of online accountancy firm The Accountancy Partnership, which said the UK is at risk of being "rapidly overtaken" by nations such as Japan that are "piling resources into universal broadband".

Lee Murphy, Managing Director of the company, is therefore worried that British businesses might miss out on potential opportunities for growth, Bdaily reports.

"Far too many businesses are held back by poor broadband coverage and slow speeds," he commented.

"They are simply not able to maximise the same opportunities online afforded to better connected competitors.

"It is not a level playing field and only serves to broaden the gap between the fast-emerging built-up areas and the nation’s more remote rural locations."

Mr Murphy said business people on the move in particular struggle with connectivity issues, as mobile internet coverage on trains and roads is inadequate.

Furthermore, he insisted that superfast and reliable internet connections are required in order for businesses to keep up with the latest innovations, such as cloud-based solutions.

However, he said hundreds of thousands of firms still remain at a "severe disadvantage", with about 192,000 unable to access speeds of 10Mbps.

"Many business parks and rural areas remain hampered by poor internet affecting their ability to grow and innovate," Mr Murphy stated.

He added that January typically sees a spike in the number of new businesses being set up, which means there is "no room for delay" when it comes to tackling this problem.

This comes after figures from Ofcom revealed that superfast broadband is now available to 89 per cent of homes and small businesses in the UK, compared with 83 per cent a year ago.

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