Patchy connectivity in rural areas is hampering small businesses with half complaining of poor broadband speeds, according to an extensive survey from the Federation of Small Businesses.
In contrast just 28 per cent of their urban small biz counterparts reported broadband issues, according to nearly 1,500 responses.
Frustrated rural SMEs complained of a number of problems, including reliability (47 per cent) and upload and download speeds (61 per cent).
The FSB has previously criticised the government's promise to achieve bandwidth speeds of 24Mbps to 95 per cent of premises by 2017, and 2Mbps to the remaining five per cent, as "not sufficiently ambitious".
Other countries have set significantly higher targets, it said. For examples, Finland has committed to offering universal access of 100Mbps to its citizens by 2015, while in South Korea 90 per cent of the population will have access to 1000Mbps by 2017.
According to the FSB as many as 45,000 SMEs are still using a dial-up connection for business purposes "quite possibly because they have no other option," it has said.
Mike Cherry, national policy chairman at the FSB, said the findings suggest a "huge missed opportunity" for economic growth in many parts of the country.
"This research paints a worrying picture of a divided business broadband landscape in the UK, and unless addressed highlights a clear obstacle to growth in the coming years. We risk seeing the emergence of a two-speed online economy resulting from poor rural broadband infrastructure.
The FSB is calling on the government to review its broadband policy to encourage more competition for better packages in the business broadband market and accelerate the roll-out of 4G mobile services. ®