The government is not doing enough to bridge the broadband divide between urban and rural areas, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has claimed.
According to the lobby group, the coalition needs to outline how it will ensure the UK has a seamless broadband infrastructure, which meets the needs of companies across the country.
Research conducted by the FSB revealed that nine per cent of businesses have no access to broadband and 22 per cent cannot take advantage of next-generation services.
And among the 84 per cent that can use current generation broadband, there is a marked difference in the typical speeds they receive, the FSB said.
More than a quarter can only just obtain speeds considered by government to be a minimum level of service – 2Mb.
Despite the government pledging to deliver super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of the UK by 2015, the FSB is concerned that countryside areas are being left behind.
"A fast, reliable and guaranteed broadband service is crucial for small businesses wherever they are as the government looks to them for greater economic growth," the forum stated.
"Access to broadband allows small firms to expand into new markets, and allows staff to work flexibly. The potential for growth among small firms is great – the government just needs to ensure they give firms the right tools – including broadband infrastructure – to achieve this."
John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said small businesses have been able to break down some of the barriers to markets, become more efficient as well as innovate and grow.
"A fast, reliable broadband service is crucial for this wherever a small business may be," he stated.
"However, we are concerned that the divide that currently splits urban and rural areas in terms of their broadband access, will not be resolved by the government's existing commitments."
Mr Walker said it is important the government sets out clear commitments and details on how it will deploy super-fast broadband across the entire country up to and beyond 2015.
"It must ensure businesses in all parts of the country can compete on a level playing field," he stated.
"We must ensure all small firms have the best opportunity available to them to grow, innovate and take on staff. Good broadband access, connection and speeds are central to that."