The UK's digital economy is being tempered by unreliable broadband speeds, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which is calling for a universal service obligation (USO) to set a minimum speed of 10 Mbps, the FT reports.
Over half of small businesses in the UK offer services online – while a further 15% have plans to do so – but FSB's report suggests further investment in digital infrastructure is needed.
"Large numbers of small firms are using new digital technology to revolutionise the way they do business, but the market still has barriers stopping firms from seizing these opportunities," said Mike Cherry, FSB policy director.
"The success of the digital revolution has led to ever higher expectations from businesses and consumers which at times the market struggles to deliver."
The FSB hopes its findings will prick the ears of the telecoms sector, given that only 36% of the businesses questioned were aware superfast broadband was available in their area, while others said the cost of services was making them think twice about taking up superfast broadband.
Cherry acknowledged that the UK is still ahead of its international competitors when it comes to adoption of digital communications, but stressed that the telecoms industry cannot be complacent.
"Consumer expectations and new technology are already overtaking past ambitions. We need to do even better, reaching a universal minimum of a least 10 Mbps while also building greater trust and reliability," he added.
With that, the FSB is calling for a voluntary code of practice to be drawn up to ensure that broadband providers are delivering the internet speeds they promise.
Given that the previous government hinted that it would consider a universal service obligation as part of its long-term promise to deliver ultrafast broadband to nearly all households, the FSB pressure could prove fruitful sooner rather than later.
Ofcom, meanwhile, has also said that it would consider this obligation.