The UK government has been accused by business leaders of displaying a "poverty of ambition" when it comes to providing a world class broadband infrastructure.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) says "mediocre" download speeds and "woeful" coverage of fibre optic cable could significantly hamper UK businesses, with virtual reality and the Internet of Things "just around the corner".
In a new report, 'Ultrafast Britain', the IoD notes the government's commitment to offer 95% coverage of 'superfast' broadband to the UK by next year – but the IoD says the targets being set should be much more ambitious.
It believes the target instead should be to offer speeds of 10 gigabits per second by 2030, around a thousand times faster than the current official target of 10 megabits per second by 2020.
As things stand, the UK lags behind many European nations when it came to installing the fibre optic cables that allow for the fastest broadband connections, despite being a world leader in the internet economy, the report claims.
Dan Lewis, senior adviser on Infrastructure Policy at the IoD, and author of the report, said: "Now is the time to set a bold new target for genuinely world-beating broadband. We have the leading internet economy in the G20, and yet download speeds are mediocre and the coverage of fibre optic cable is woeful."
He highlighted how the demand for data is growing "exceptionally fast", but because the UK network is "behind the curve", businesses won't be able to make the progress that they had hoped to.
To prove its point, the IoD noted that Lithuania, whose economy is only a third the size of the UK's per head, has fibre connections reaching a third of premises. In Britain, the figure is a fraction of 1%.
"Unfortunately, the government's current target displays a distinct poverty of ambition," Lewis said.