Rural areas of the UK are better connected to broadband than urban areas for the first time, according to a report out today.

New figures show 59 per cent of rural households how have broadband compared with 57 per cent of homes in urban areas, Ofcom said.

The report effectively ends concerns of a "digital divide" between country and built-up areas, the communications regulator said.

In England 60 per cent of rural households have broadband, 2 per cent more than urban areas. The gap is the same in Northern Ireland, where 54 per cent of rural homes have broadband.

In Scotland 59 per cent of rural homes have broadband compared with 52 per cent of urban homes, while in Wales 51 per cent of rural homes and 43 per cent of urban homes have the technology.

The figures are included in Ofcom's "communications market report for the nations and regions of the UK".

Overall broadband is now in 57 per cent of UK households, up from 45 per cent a year ago.

The study also found digital television is in 85 per cent of UK households, up 10 per cent since 2006.

Sunderland appears to be the current technology capital of the UK, having the highest number of homes with broadband (66 per cent) and the highest number with digital television (96 per cent).

Glasgow has the lowest number of homes with broadband (32 per cent) while the west urban area of Northern Ireland has the lowest number of households with digital television (64 per cent).

The number of households relying solely on mobile phones has increased to 12 per cent, the report said.

Homes without a landline grew most in Wales, where a fifth (19 per cent) of all households now only use mobiles. In Scotland mobile-only homes fell slightly from 14 per cent to 12 per cent.

Greater Manchester had the highest number of mobile-only homes in the UK at (28 per cent).

People in Scotland watched the most television at four hours a day, higher than the UK average of 3.4 hours.

The English spend more time on the internet than anyone else in the UK, with 77 per cent of their time online spent sending emails and instant messages and visiting chatrooms.

The Welsh watch more satellite television than the rest of the UK with 79 per cent taking a satellite service compared with an average 65 per cent across the UK.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Our report highlights a closing of the geographic digital divide in the UK. Rural households are today as well connected to broadband as their urban neighbours.

"The report also shows that across the UK take-up of all communications services continues to grow with more people watching digital television and listening to DAB digital radio, and consumers are benefiting from convergence and using new ways to access traditional services."