Dorset has average broadband speeds three times slower than an average UK city, a new report has revealed.

A new report by the County Council Network found that rural Dorset had an average speed of 26.9Mbps, less than half those in neighbouring Bournemouth (61.2Mbps) and just slightly above the West Devon, which has the slowest broadband in Britain at just 21.8Mbps.

However, nationally, 72 per cent of England’s counties are below the national average download speed of 45Mbps and more than a quarter (27 per cent) have average speeds below Ofcom’s definition of superfast broadband (30Mbps).

Alongside this, the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Herefordshire, and Shropshire also had average speeds that do not qualify as superfast.

The findings clash with data from communications regulator Ofcom showing that 91 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK now have access to broadband connections of up to 30Mbps.

Councillor Philip Atkins, vice chairman of the County Council Network, said that rural counties including Dorset feared that they would be unable to attract “the businesses of the future”, in the financial, tech, and communications sectors because of the lack of superfast broadband.

He added: “Counties are great places to live and work, but these figures show that businesses in shire counties and rural areas are being left at a competitive disadvantage. It cannot be right that in some areas, businesses and residents in a city less than 10 miles down the road from a rural county benefit from average download speeds of more than three times faster.”

“While the Government has announced investment in this area, we remain concerned that digital infrastructure in counties isn’t getting the attention it desperately needs.”

Councillor Deborah Croney, cabinet member for economy, education, learning and skills at Dorset County Council, added: “We must send a strong message to the government that we are ambitious and serious about increasing productivity and enabling sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

A spokesman from the Department for Innovation, Business and Skills said dismissed the report stressing that nobody will get left behind when it came to rolling out rural broadband.