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In a study of 65 countries sponsored by network equipment maker Cisco, researchers from the Said Business School at Oxford and University of Oviedo's Department of Applied Economics found broadband quality is linked to a nation's advancement as a knowledge economy.
The research ranks the UK 25th (down from 24th in 2008) measured by the proportion of households accessing broadband. This was behind Taiwan and Ukraine but ahead of Germany, Spain and Italy.
Birmingham and Glasgow were the only British towns rated as meeting today's broadband needs, a long way behind leaders Yokohama and Nagoya in Japan. Broadband services in rural areas were just adequate for today's applications, they said.
The researchers said UK broadband speeds were improving. Download speeds were 39% faster on average while upload speeds had increased by 37%, But latency (the delay on the network) had increased by 8%.
The UK's broadband quality score, a weighted measure to reflect users' actual online experience, improved from 28.3 to 30.8 points, but the UK still lagged behind its peer group, they said.
Since the research was done in April, BT and Virgin Media have both increased the speeds of their networks, and said they intend to increase their coverage.
The UK government has committed itself to rolling out universal access to a 2Mbps service, as recommended in the Digital Britain report.
However, uncertainties over the tax treatment of investments in networks, the availability of government money to pay for supplying broadband to remote areas and difficulties policing illegal filesharers are delaying new investors.
|Top 10 broadband countries 2009|
|Broadband Penetration (% of households)||Broadband quality score 2009||Broadband leadership 2009|
|1) South Korea 97%||66||139|
|2) Japan 64%||64||115|
|3) Hong Kong 99%||33||111|
|4) Sweden 69%||57||110|
|5) Switzerland 90%||40||108|
|6) Netherlands 83%||46||108|
|7) Singapore 96%||32||107|
|8) Luxembourg 99%||27||
|9) Denmark 82%||45||106|
|10) Norway 84%||38||102|
Source: Said Business School, Oxford