New research has demonstrated the impact unreliable broadband can have on the UK's small businesses.
According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, nearly one in three (30 per cent) of small firms have suffered problems with their internet connection or phone service. The organisation also found more than half of these companies think they would lose money, customers or the ability to trade at all if they did not have reliable broadband.
Close to a quarter of the firms surveyed said they have had to complain to their internet provider. Intermittent service or a complete lack of connectivity are the most common causes for grievances, with 92 per cent of those companies who have complained highlighting these as the reason.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Poor broadband services are costing small firms business. Many are using the internet to communicate with customers, place orders for stock and shop around for the best priced supplies. A reliable broadband service is essential for firms to be able to operate."
Overall, 31 per cent of the small firms surveyed claimed they are concerned about the quality of their broadband.
Margaret Lynch, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, added: "Due to our geography and the make-up of our economy, many businesses in Scotland are vulnerable to broadband problems."
She said there are around 50,000 small companies based in Scotland's rural communities and these firms are particularly vulnerable to unreliable broadband. Ms Lynch said the implications of any problems small companies suffer can be much worse in rural areas than in urban locations, where it is easier for customers to use another business and for workers to find jobs elsewhere.
When asked how they use their broadband, 83 per cent of small firms pointed to email, while 71 per cent rely on the web for stock services. The same number use the net to pay bills, while 67 per cent go online to compare prices for suppliers.