The spectrum of broadband speed throughout the UK has narrowed, with the average speed increasing by 5% to 18.7Mbps in the last six months.
Figures from Ofcom show that the government's ongoing £1.7 billion drive to get the more isolated areas of the UK better connected has resulted in rural customers experiencing a bigger increase in average broadband speeds than people in urban and suburban areas.
Rural customers received an average speed boost of 20%, bringing it to a figure of 13.6Mbps in the period from November 2013 to May 2014. Those in urban and suburban areas saw their speeds increase by 5% to 33.4Mbps and 22.9Mbps respectively.
The research also suggests that Internet connections in cable broadband homes are faster on average than those using fibre, showing average cable speeds to be 43.3Mbps, compared to 42Mbps for fibre. The regulator attributed this to many cable customers having upgraded to a faster service, as more TV services become reliant on a fast Internet connection.
Average speeds for ADSL connections, the most common type of broadband, increased by 0.7Mbps, or 10%, to 7.4Mbps in the six-month period.
Digital Economy minister Ed Vaizey said he was "delighted" with the findings, but added they were not unexpected.
Vaizey said the government has taken access to superfast broadband speeds to more than 1 million homes and businesses, which has been a key factor in speeds "increasing by more than 3 and a half times since May 2010."
In terms of the providers themselves, Virgin Media's 'up to' 152Mbps cable service achieved the fastest download speed, averaging 141.9Mbps. BT's 'up to' 76Mbps fibre package was found to be the next best, delivering an average download speed of 62Mbps.