An exhaustive study by Ofcom has found that the UK has patchy broadband coverage, and that there is a broad divide between the digital haves and have-nots.
Coverage is essentially good, the regulator said, but the quality and speed of connections is not coming up to scratch.
The Ofcom Infrastructure Report 2014 (PDF) said that, while some premises benefit from 350Mbps speeds, others have to contend with 0.1Mbps. The average fixed line is 23Mbps.
The UK is well served by the lower tier of basic 2Mbps connections, said Ofcom, but three percent of premises fail to reach even this lowly level, putting them at a serious disadvantage. Ofcom has, in the past, suggested a higher minimum of 8Mbps.
The next tier, 10Mbps, has better coverage and is becoming an accepted minimum, but is still unavailable to 15 percent of premises aroudn the UK.
The upper tier of superfast broadband has seen rapid adoption since it arrived in 2009, according to the report, and is available to 75 percent of the UK. Ofcom estimated that take up is currently at 21 percent.
Meanwhile, some 27 percent of premises have no fixed internet at all. Ofcom said that some of these might be using mobile or wireless connections, but added that 18 percent of homes still have no internet access of any kind.
Ofcom said that adoption is being hampered by the lack of availability of services in rural and some city areas, by the slow provision of fibre connections to on-street cabinets, and that more progress should be made on the upgrade from superfast to ultrafast broadband.
Small businesses, for example, would benefit from a wider range of connectivity options, according to the report.
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