The UK is 18th in the world when it comes to broadband quality, says Cisco.

Research by the firm, which was conducted by the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, revealed that Britain has shot up from 25th place in 2009.

The UK was in the two thirds of countries that meet the requirements to enjoy all the major services currently offered via the web - for example social networking, small file sharing, email and web browsing.

However, the UK failed to appear in the list of countries prepared for the "internet applications of tomorrow" which, according to Cisco, includes HD internet TV and high quality video communications services, requiring download speeds of 11Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps.

The 14 countries that are prepared include Sweden, Bulgaria, Japan and South Korea, which came top of the list.

Overall broadband quality has increased by 48 percent since 2008 and nearly half (49 percent) of households in the countries covered by the study have access to broadband, compared to just 40 percent in 2008

Furthermore, the average global download speed has increased by 49 percent in three years to 5.9Mbps from 3.2Mbps, while the average upload speed is 1.7Mbps – that's 69 percent up on figures from 2008.

In the UK, the average download speed is 6.4Mbps while upload speeds average at 586kbps. However, South Korea has an average download speed of 33.5Mbps and an average upload speed of 17Mbps.

"The UK is not on average ready for tomorrow but there has been significant improvements in the last two years," said Fernando Gil de Bernabe, a senior director at Cisco, told the BBC.

The government's plan to ensure every Brit has access to 2Mbps broadband by 2015 will go some way to making sure the UK is prepared for the "internet applications of the future". However, how this will be funded remains to be seen.

"What I hear repeatedly is the question about who is going to pay for it. The leadership countries aren't asking those questions," added Gil de Bernabe.

See also: One in five homes worldwide has broadband