More than 50 per cent of UK adults now have broadband internet access at home, a new Ofcom report shows. This is up by 39 per cent compared to a year ago.

According to Ofcom , the rapid increase in the amount of broadband connections is due to new users choosing to opt for broadband straight away, rather than first trying a dial-up service.

In the past four years, the UK has seen a seven-fold increase in the number of broadband connections across the country. Some 13 million homes and small businesses are now connected to the internet using broadband.

Ofcom's Digital Progress Report states that price drops in the broadband market and a rise in the number of different packages on offer to consumers have been important factors in the massive rise in broadband uptake.

Pricing and bundling of broadband with other services - such as telephone and TV - are significant factors in choosing an ISP, said 27 per cent of users. And 40 per cent of all adults with broadband at home also take other communications services from the same provider, Ofcom found.

The report - which looks at levels of take-up, usage and the types of broadband services available - also shows that broadband prices are continuing to fall while connection speeds are going up.

In 2006, the average speed for consumers was around 2Mbit/s for £15 a month - down from £50 in 2003. The average headline connection speed for broadband connections was 3.8Mbit/s at the end of last year, up from 1.6Mbit/s in 2005.

Faster speeds have increased the use of VoIP, and online audio and video content. At the end of 2006, one in ten UK adults said they were making calls over the internet - double the amount that said they did this at the end of 2005. Some 28 per cent listen to or download online audio and 26 per cent watch video clips online on a weekly basis.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "With over half of UK adults now using broadband at home, we have reached a very significant milestone in the development of broadband Britain. Consumers are responding positively to the competition and innovation that the UK market now offers."