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The broadband speeds available to the majority of UK consumers have increased over the course of the last year, it has been reported.

Research conducted by Ofcom indicates that an average speed of 5.2Mb is now available in the UK, compared to 4.1Mb in 2009 - representing a 25 per cent rise.

The media regulator also discovered evidence of wider access to high-speed broadband connections, with 24 per cent of households now able to receive download speeds of 10Mb or more.

When Ofcom conducted a similar study last year, just eight per cent of customers fell into this category, highlighting the rapid strides being made in the broadband sector.

However, the news is not all positive. While broadband technology has continued to develop, the gap between advertised downloads and those actually being received has also increased.

In 2009, Ofcom found that broadband users were enjoying average actual downloads of 4.1Mb, 58 per cent of the headline speed of 7.1Mb.

However, the study revealed that average downloads currently stand at 5.2Mb, just 45 per cent of the 11.5Mb advertised 'up to' limit.

Ed Richards, Ofcom's Chief Executive, said it was "good news" that broadband technology has continued to develop, but there is scope for a further step change in the quality of the UK communications infrastructure.

He commented: "Actual speeds are often much lower than many of the advertised speeds, which makes it essential that consumers are given information which is as accurate as possible at the point of sale."

Mr Richards told the BBC that a range of factors can restrict download capabilities, including wiring, line length and interference, but ISPs must ensure they do not market their broadband deals irresponsibly.

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