The UK public's thirst for super-fast broadband is lacking in comparison with network providers' efforts to provide it, according to figures released by Ofcom.
Nearly 60 percent of UK homes and small businesses have access to connections providing downloads faster than 25Mbps, the telecoms regulator said in its Communications Market Report on Wednesday. However, fewer than seven percent of premises have signed up for the super-fast services.
, the sign-up figure is an improvement on the total revealed in Ofcom's November report, of .
Northern Ireland has the highest availability of super-fast services, with nearly 95 percent of homes and businesses within reach.
Scotland, meanwhile, showed the best growth in uptake of all levels of broadband service, rising to 68 percent from 61 percent over 12 months.
The report, which used data up until March 2012, noted that fixed-line broadband connections are at their highest point ever, passing 20 million premises for the first time during 2011.
The figures are unlikely to provide much reassurance for the government, which has ambitions to make the UK a leader in broadband in Europe by 2020. They show the UK is a long way from achieving the EU's Digital Agenda goals around broadband, which call for 50 percent take-up of 100Mbps broadband services by 2020.
In the UK, super-fast broadband is defined as download speeds of faster than 25Mbps. However, the European Commission defines it as faster than 30Mbps.
In the UK,(and resellers of its services) and super-fast services, as well as ultra-fast connections that currently deliver maximum download speeds of around 120Mbps on top-of-the-range packages.
Ofcom's report found that mobile broadband subscriptions have increased over the year, adding up to total of more than five million subscribers. The regulator also said thatfor the first time, while texting and social networking is on the rise.