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The number of households with access to superfast broadband connections has gone up by nine per cent in the last year.

According to new figures from Ofcom, 42 per cent of homes had connection speeds of at least 30Mbps from their residential fixed broadband line in November 2015.

Statistics also showed that the proportion of lines with a headline speed of up to 10Mbps or more rose by two per cent during the year to 93 per cent.

Meanwhile, average actual UK residential fixed broadband download speeds rose from 22.8Mbps in November 2014 to 28.9Mbps 12 months later

Ofcom said this increase was fuelled by greater take-up of higher-speed connections and the increasing average speeds these packages offer.

Virgin Media was rated particularly highly by Ofcom, as its 100Mbps and 200Mbps provided the fastest average actual download speeds of all the internet service providers it looked at.

Indeed, figures showed that its 'up to' 200Mbit/s service had the highest average actual download speed at 174.0Mbps.

"Access to high quality fixed internet services has become essential to the increasingly online lives of the UK's population," Ofcom said.

However, the watchdog pointed out that there is a disparity between the performance and provision of high-speed broadband services in urban and rural areas.

Ofcom said this is because providing superfast products to rural homes has proved difficult and costly.

Average download speeds in urban areas are 50.5Mbps, while the figure is just 13.7Mbps in rural locations.

"The main reasons for this difference were the lower availability of fibre and cable broadband in rural areas and slower average ADSL and fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connection speeds," the watchdog stated.

However, Ofcom pointed out that several government and independent programmes have been set up to address this disparity. For instance, it said £780 million of public money has been allocated to extending superfast broadband availability to 95 per cent of premises in the UK by the end of next year.

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