The telecoms regulator has today published their annual 2013 International Communications Market Report (ICMR), which looks at the adoption, coverage and the uptake of broadband, phone, mobile, TV and radio services across 16 of the world’s major countries. The report found that the UK can hold its own against the heavy weights and consumer satisfaction with superfast broadband is very high.
As usual Ofcom’s ICMR data for the United Kingdom is unfortunately not as current as the regulators recent 2013 Infrastructure Report (i.e. most of it is from Q4 2012, with some from 2013) but it does still offer a useful comparison. For example, in the UK there were 5.3 Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband connections per 100 people and that places us 5th in the table.
On the other hand most of the country’s NGA connections up to the end of 2012 came from Virgin Media’s cable (DOCSIS3.0 / FTTLA) network. At that point BT’s up to 40-80Mbps capable FTTC (VDSL) service wasn’t quite as highly adopted but it is growing at a fast pace.
But unsurprisingly the UK still has hardly any true ultrafast fibre optic (FTTH/P/B) connections (estimates put the 2012 figure at around 200k premises passed) and the pace of growth in this area continues to be slow due to a lack of interest from the national operators (i.e. BT deem it to be too expensive to deploy).
It’s similarly noted that, at the end of 2012, some 15% of UK fixed broadband ISP connections were considered to be “superfast” and thus able to offer Internet download speeds of at least 30Mbps (Megabits per second). However this is based on headline (advertised) speed rather than real-world performance.
The uptake of NGA is an important consideration here but it should be remembered that not all NGA lines are “superfast“. Technical limits of the service or the customer’s own choice of a slower speed package can often result in sub-30Mbps speeds. Never the less we still do quite well against the other major countries.
Ofcom’s study also found that the United Kingdom had the highest level of consumer satisfaction with superfast broadband services, which reached an impressive 89% (September 2013 data) and put us in front of the other countries. But this fell to 81% for standard broadband and meant we came 2nd behind Australia.
It’s also noted that the average revenue per fixed broadband connection increased by an average of 3.1% a year (equivalent to about £15 per month) in the United Kingdom between 2007 and 2012, which is in contrast to a fall in some of the other countries as operators cut prices to compete.
Ofcom puts the UK’s growth down to stronger take-up of superfast broadband services, which often attract a premium. But the UK still remains one of the cheapest markets for broadband and communication services in general.
We could go on but Ofcom’s full 388 page report is a mammoth to summarise. But if you have a week spare to read through the whole thing then now’s your chance.
Ofcom’s International Communications Market Report (PDF)