O2 customers get the fastest mobile broadband in Britain, according to a new report.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has completed its first research into mobile broadband in the UK, finding that O2 beat rivals Vodafone, 3, T-Mobile and Orange.
The report also revealed that 17 per cent of UK households use mobile broadband via dongles and datacards to access the web, with seven per cent using it as their only means of internet connection.
"Although O2 topped the overall results, consumers need to be aware that network performance varies hugely depending on location, time of day and in particular whether you use your device indoors or outdoors," said Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Thomas Wehmeier.
More than 4.2 million tests were carried out out measuring speed and performance, with average download speed achieved by consumers of 1.5 megabits per second, meaning basic web pages took an average of 8.5 seconds to download.
That compares with 6.2 megabits per second and less than 0.5 seconds per page for fixed broadband.
Ofcom said mobile broadband performance was likely to remain significantly below fixed broadband until the next generation of mobile technology, 4G, is in place.
This will start with the rollout of additional spectrum in 2013, it said.
Vodafone and 3 delivered the next fastest downloads on average after O2, with T-Mobile and Orange following.
T-Mobile and Orange have combined their UK operations in a joint venture and offer roaming across their two networks.
Urban areas tended to deliver faster access than rural areas, Ofcom found, although cities have areas of poor performance.
The report did not cover the use of smartphones for internet access.