The UK ranks 18th in the world for broadband quality and penetration, according to a survey of 72 countries which found that download and upload speeds have improved noticeably in the past three years.
The Broadband Quality survey, carried out by Oxford University's Saïd Business School on behalf of Cisco, found that average UK download speeds have improved by 39 per cent since 2009 to reach 6.4Mbit/s.
This compares favourably with the global average of 5.9Mbit/s, but the average UK upload speed, although having risen by 17 per cent to 0.59Mbit/s, is well below the global average of 1.77Mbit/s.
Phil Smith, chief executive of Cisco in the UK, said that, while the figures underline the progress the UK is making, there is a still a long way to go to meet the government's goals.
"After disappointing results in 2008 and 2009, this year's study has seen the UK make significant improvements, especially in terms of download speeds, and Britain is ranked above countries such as Australia and Spain," he said.
"But there is still a significant amount of work to be done if we are to reach the government's target of having the best broadband infrastructure in Europe within five years."
The figures also show that, while average speeds in the UK mean that businesses can use applications such as low-definition video streaming, basic videoconferencing and small file sharing, more needs to be done to meet the potential of future applications.
"We are not among the 14 countries ready for the internet's 'applications of tomorrow', which will be crucial to driving economic growth in the coming years, " said Smith.
"Competition among innovation economies is already fierce and, with average broadband quality rising by nearly a quarter worldwide in the last 12 months, there is no time for the government or the UK's service providers to rest on their laurels."
The UK also scored well on broadband penetration. Some 70 per cent of the population is able to access good quality services, which is a significant proportion given the diverse nature of the UK's geography.
South Korea, Sweden, Japan and Hong Kong are the best broadband nations in the world, but overall global performance improved by 24 per cent in the past year on average.
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