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Virgin Media has been found to offer the fastest average download speeds of any major internet provider in the UK.

According to research by Ookla, the company offers average download speeds of 161.33Mbps.

This puts it well ahead of its closest rivals, with BT recording an average of 63.23Mbps and Plusnet offering an average of 59.53Mbps.

TalkTalk came fourth with 37.57Mbps, while Sky Broadband was ranked in fifth place with average speeds of 36.27Mbps.

The average for the country as a whole was found to be 39.76Mbps, which is 18 per cent higher than the figure last year.

"Virgin Media’s use of fast cable technology DOCSIS 3 means it is currently increasing the top-level service to 200Mbps," Ookla said.

"More than that though, Virgin has invested to reduce congestion and generally make its service more than just good on paper."

Virgin Media's strong performance might go some way towards explaining its enthusiastic response to the Advertising Standards Authority's pledge to change the rules on broadband speed advertising.

The watchdog wants to change the rules as it believes advertising speeds that are available to just ten per cent of their customers is misleading and means many people are not getting the speeds they expected.

Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive of Virgin Media, said the closure of this loophole is "long overdue", as consumers should "know what they’re paying for and not be hoodwinked by a little known rule which is supposed to be in their interest".

A study carried out Ipsos MORI for Virgin Media revealed that three-quarters of people feel misled if speed and usage claims are not included in adverts, while 90 per cent of people feel download speeds should be flagged up in promotional material.

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