Three of the UK’s largest ISPs have agreed to improve broadband services for smaller businesses.

BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, which between them account for the majority of business broadband customers, have agreed to work on a new Code of Practice for business broadband services.

In a detailed study of how well small businesses are served by their communications services, the regulator found that in June last year only 56% of SME premises had access to superfast broadband, compared to 75% of all UK premises.

A fifth of businesses questions weren’t getting the speeds the were promised.

A new business broadband code will emulate the current Code of Practice on Broadband Speeds that covers consumers.

The Code for business broadband is expected to cover similar areas, but may need to be tailored to particular needs of smaller businesses – for example, by offering commitments relating to upload speeds (which are particularly important to many businesses) as well as download speeds. Ofcom aims to publish the Code in the autumn.

“Small businesses are essential to the UK economy, and most rely on telecoms services to carry out their everyday work. But some companies lack the resources or expertise to get the services they need,” said Sharon White, chief executive, Ofcom. “We’ve made clear we want to see better broadband coverage, quality of service, information and advice for all consumers, and that means business users too. So we are taking action alongside industry and the Government to make that happen.”

Ofcom is recommending Government sets explicit targets for business coverage are set to help ensure SMEs have access to the right technology.