Bradford: The UK's best broadband city

But the UK is still lagging behind international rivals on connection speeds

But the UK is still lagging behind international rivals on connection speeds

UK broadband speeds continue to lag behind the best in the world with an average broadband connection speed of 4.3Mbps which places it 26th globally - although things are steadily improving.

The average UK connection speed has risen by 16.2 per cent compared to a year ago when it stood at 3.7Mbps. It's also a 6.3 per cent improvement on the final quarter of 2010 and is well above the global average of 1.9Mbps.

The figures come from Akamai's "The State of the Internet" report covering the fourth quarter of 2010. The web infrastructure provider gathers the data from its global webserver network.

Akamai has also ranked the top 100 cities in the world for average broadband speeds and only one UK city – Bradford – makes the list with average connection speed of 6.1 Mbps, which places the West Yorkshire city in 99th place.

UK broadband connection speeds are improving

Broadband connection speeds are improving in the UK but remain behind the world's bestPhoto: Shutterstock

The city with the fastest average internet connection speed in the world is Taegu in South Korea with 18.4 Mbps. The list of cities is dominated by South Korea and Japan with the first city outside of these two countries being Hong Kong - at 41.

The first city on the list outside Asia is Constanta in Romania (56), which is followed by Lyse in Norway (63), Victoria in Canada (67), Valencia in Spain (73), Porto in Portugal (81) and Oakland in California (93).

South Korea has the fastest average broadband connection speed with 13.7Mbps, followed by Hong Kong (9.4Mbps) and Japan (8.3Mbps). The top European nation is Romania with 7.0Mbps.

Principal analyst at Forrester Research Ian Fogg said the UK's relative slowness in launching fibre broadband compared to other countries is down to a number of factors. He said many European countries have historically had lower quality network infrastructure meaning there is more momentum to offer fibre, while lower labour costs and fewer restrictions make roll out cheaper and easier.

Meanwhile, South Korea's success in achieving fast broadband speeds is largely down to the country's government pushing for 1,000Mbps broadband for all residents. "The country is highly advanced in its thinking on both mobile broadband and home broadband," Fogg said.

But Fogg is optimistic things will change as investments in superfast networks - such as Virgin Media's 100Mbps broadband and BT's fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network - begin to pay off, with fibre-to-the-home likely to improve things further. "While FTTC only offers about 40Mbps speeds, a full FTTH service could offer 100Mbps today and 1,000Mbps soon. This would offer a step change in people's internet experience," Fogg said.

While Fogg said that the slower implementation of fibre broadband in the UK means consumers may lose out on new online services in the short term, he added that the importance of mobile broadband should not be underestimated. He said there is "tremendous innovation" taking place beyond fixed broadband that is allowing users to connect to the internet wherever and whenever they want.

In terms of the countries with the highest average peak broadband speeds, Hong Kong comes out on top with 37.9Mbps. The UK peaks at 16.1Mbps which is a nine per cent increase on the previous quarter, putting it in 30th place globally.

Japan has the highest penetration of broadband connections faster than 5Mbps, with 58 per cent of connections exceeding this speed. The UK has 22 per cent of its connections at 5Mbps or higher, putting it in 28th place globally on that basis.