The average broadband speed in the UK is 3.6Mbps, says Ofcom.

According to research by the watchdog, that's less than the UK's average maximum possible speed of 4.3 Mbps and significantly less than most advertised speeds.

The survey also highlighted that 60 percent of UK web users subscribe to 8Mbps packages or above but, on average, consumers only receive 45 percent of their headline speed.

Consumers living in urban areas tend to get speeds 15 percent faster than those living in rural areas, usually because of the distance from their exchange. London had the fastest average speed across the whole of the UK, with the north east of England, Wales and Scotland receiving the slowest average speeds.

Internet use was revealed to be is at its highest between 5 and 6pm on a Sunday, which is also the time that the lowest speeds were recorded.

However, despite these figures, 93 percent of consumers said they were satisfied with their broadband speed. Of those surveyed, 91 percent rated speed as an important factor when choosing a broadband package but 28 percent admitted they were unaware of the headline speed of their chosen package.

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"We want to see all ISPs meet the needs of their customers by clearly explaining what speeds they should expect and by ensuring that their networks meet consumers' increasing demand for higher speed broadband," said Ofcom's Chief Executive, Ed Richards.

In response to the research, Felix Geyr, managing director of ISP Be Broadband, said: "The Ofcom report is a step in the right direction for the broadband industry to cut through customer's confusion and improve trust in their services".

"We look forward to the publication of the full findings of the report later this year and will continue to work with Ofcom to ensure consumers get a clear idea of Be's performance and enable them to choose the best broadband deal."

The survey saw broadband access in 1,5000 homes monitored over a 30 day period, and is part of an ongoing six-month research programme by Ofcom. A full report is expected to be published later this year.

See also: Ofcom reports mobile broadband growth