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Average UK broadband speeds have soared to 17.8Mb, according to the latest figures from Ofcom.

The communications regulator says the average fixed-line residential broadband connection is five times faster than five years ago.

Back in November 2008, when Ofcom first published broadband speed data, the UK average was just 3.6Mb.

The average urban download speed in November 2013 was 31.9Mb, up 21 per cent since last May, while the rural average was reported to be 11.3Mb, up from 9.9Mb.

In terms of individual broadband providers, Virgin Media is leading the way.

Of the broadband packages included in the report, its up to 120Mb service achieved the fastest download speeds over a 24-hour period, averaging 114.9Mb.

Virgin Media has since launched 152Mb broadband services - meaning a further boost in speeds could be reported in the May 2014 figures.

The next fastest broadband deals were the up to 76Mb fibre packages offered by BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Sky and EE - all of which are delivered over BT's super-fast network.

These packages achieved average download speeds of 64.8Mb over a 24-hour period.

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said the growth in super-fast broadband and the rise in average speeds is "testament to the investment in the sector".

"But the benefits are not shared evenly across the UK," he stated.

"There is more work needed to deliver wider availability of broadband and super-fast broadband, particularly in rural communities but also in some locations within cities to enable wider access to fast internet."

The government has outlined its desire to improve speeds in rural areas as a priority, and has committed more than £1 billion to the rollout of super-fast broadband in the UK countryside.

According to the Con-Lib coalition, the UK is on course to reach 90 per cent super-fast coverage by 2016, and 95 per cent coverage a year later.

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