Businesses across the UK are seeing their productivity stifled as a result of unreliable broadband connections, according to the findings of a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) released today.
Despite 82% of businesses believing that reliable broadband is 'extremely important' to them, the findings reveal that nearly one-in-five do not have access to it.
Around half claim an improvement in the reliability of their broadband would allow them to use more applications, 24% could access additional cloud-based services, and 22% would be able to increase the number of large file transfers.
BCC director general, Dr Adam Marshall, said: "Business communities across the UK still report that our digital infrastructure is not fit for purpose.
"Throughout the country, significant numbers of companies of every size and sector lack reliable internet connectivity - a basic requirement for businesses to operate efficiently in today's world.
"Unreliable connections stunt productivity, causing needless delays, costs and frustration."
The survey involved 1,465 business people from all regions of the UK, finding that firms in rural areas are at least twice as likely to have unreliable connections than those in towns and inner cities.
It was also found that smaller businesses are the most affected by insufficient broadband access, with 24% of sole traders and 21% of micro-businesses reporting problems.
"While businesses in every corner of the UK are affected, our research shows that it's rural areas and small businesses that are most likely to suffer," Marshall continued.
"An unreliable connection acts as an obstacle to growth, and puts those firms most in need of support at a competitive disadvantage.
"We've been calling on both providers and on government for years to fund the necessary upgrades required to deliver superfast broadband to business communities. Regulators, too, must ensure that firms actually get the quality and speeds of connection they are promised.
"The immediate focus must be on providing all companies with connections that are reliable and of sufficient speed, which would boost business confidence and encourage firms to maximise opportunities for growth, trade and investment."