Efforts to improve the availability of high-speed broadband around the UK appear to be paying off, as new figures from Ofcom reveal average consumer download speeds have increased by almost a fifth over the last 12 months.
Research conducted by the telecoms regulator in partnership with speed testing service SamKnows found the typical home in the UK enjoyed a download speed of 54.4Mbps as of November 2018. This was the first time average speeds have surpassed the 50Mbps milestone and was an 18 per cent improvement on the figures from 12 months earlier.
Upload speeds also showed improvement, though as the majority of users remain on asymmetric connections, performance remained significantly slower than for downloading. However, the average consumer now has an upload speed of 7.2Mbps, a 15 per cent rise on 2017's figures.
This means both download and upload speeds in the UK have more than doubled in the last five years.
Ofcom noted more than nine in ten homes and small businesses in the UK can get superfast connections and, unsurprisingly, full fibre-to-the-premises connections outperformed copper-based services in "almost every way", including for upload and download speeds.
Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, said: "Broadband comes in lots of flavours these days: copper, superfast, cable and full fibre. Which kind you choose can really affect your online experience."
However, the research revealed there is still a significant divide between urban and rural broadband performance. While 58 per cent of connections overall had an average speed of 30Mbps or above in 2018 during the peak hours between 8pm and 10pm, the proportion of lines receiving such speeds was lower in rural areas of the UK (44 per cent) than in urban areas (61 per cent).
At the other end of the scale, a third of rural areas (33 per cent) had peak download speeds lower than 10Mbps, compared with just 13 per cent of urban lines.