FEWER than half of households in Southampton have access to top broadband speeds, official figures show.

As council bosses prepare to plough millions of pounds into upgrading the network, industry watchdog Ofcom has revealed the city is lagging well behind the rest of the county.

In Hampshire, coverage of 'superfast' broadband, which is higher than 24 megabits-per-second (Mbps), is 68 per cent - and this reaches 95 per cent in Portsmouth. But in Southampton it slips to just 46 per cent. Some parts of the UK, including remote Scottish islands, currently have no superfast coverage at all.

Council bosses are currently working on plans to give 90 per cent of homes and businesses access to a superfast service.

Funding bids from Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council were accepted by the government in January this year, with £8.4m pot set aside for Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. The money from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has to be matched by council and private finance.

But the plans have been criticised by a Parliamentary committee, which said the plans would leave some areas in the slow lane.

The Lords Communications Committee said the government was focusing on speed rather than complete coverage.

Their report said: "There is a very real risk that some people and businesses are being left behind."

The report argued for a network of fibre-optic hubs, which would get fast broadband to every community, criticising an obsession with speed over reach.

It added: "What is important is the long term assurance that, as new internet applications emerge, everyone will be able to benefit, from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the UK."

But Ed Vaizey, the digital minister, rejected the criticism, saying: "There is a lot of public money going in to fill this gap."