The UK may be above the global average in terms of broadband downstream speeds, but in terms with competing with the big players, it is falling way behind.

A new league table produced by Ookla, which it is calling the Net Index, shows that in the period of 24 Nov, 2007 to 25 May, 2010, the UK ranked 33rd in the world. Thirty-blooming-third! That's over 30 places lower than Moldova and Latvia and the UK is even lagging behind hi-tech powerhouses such as Lithuania and Liechtenstein.

The UK's average downstream speed is 7.7Mbps, which is 0.03Mbps above the global average, but when you consider that the top ten nations all have a downstream stream of at least double the UK's, then being a fraction above the global average doesn't seem so great.

South Korea is leading the way with an incredible 34.19Mbps average downstream speed, which is almost 10Mbps faster than the second place nation, Latvia. Japan and Moldova complete a quartet who all have average downstream speeds over 20Mbps.

In the UK broadband speed can depend on a number of factors, especially if you get your net connection piped in through your phone line. The main issue is that the further you are away from the telephone exchange, the slower your ADSL broadband is likely to be. There's also the problem that some ADSL technologies, such as ADSL Max, ADSL 2+ and Annex-M, might not be available in your area. You can check your area by entering your landline phone number, or postcode, onto this site from BT.

Alternatively, you could get your broadband through a cable service like Virgin Media. Virgin promises the fastest broadband speeds in the country of up to 50Mb. Our Virgin contact told us:

"We've seen a growing appetite for faster broadband as people increasingly access more bandwidth-heavy content. Over half the UK already has the opportunity to get 50Mb fibre optic broadband from Virgin Media and, with the only next generation network in the country, we're at the forefront of innovation and understanding when it comes to ultrafast internet access".

"We're launching a 100Mb service later this year and have expanded our trials looking at how we can exploit our network even further to meet the future demands of consumers, piloting speeds that are amongst the fastest in the world, which will give us further insight into how true 'wideband' services might be used".

100Mb eh? Take that South Korea. Oh, wait - it's got its own plans for a speed increase, of up to 1Gbps. That's silly quick.

After all this talk of rapid broadband, spare a thought for poor old Zambia who, with an average speed of just 0.26Mbps, is ranked rock bottom of the Net Index in 154th place. That's some slow surfing.