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International Ofcom Study Finds UK Strong for Broadband Availability and Price

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 (8:44 am) - Score 1,006

Ofcom has released its annual 2012 International Communications Market Report (ICMR), which looks at the adoption, coverage and the uptake of broadband, phone, mobile, TV and radio services across 17 major countries. The report found that the UK was one of the cheapest markets and our superfast broadband (30Mbps+) availability compares favourably.

The ICMR data for the United Kingdom is unfortunately not as current as the regulators recent 2012 Infrastructure Report, although it does still deliver a useful means of comparing our strengths and weaknesses with other major countries. For example, 65% of UK homes were able to receive superfast broadband by July 2012 and this is stronger than many of the other markets (most of the related services are delivered via BT’s FTTx network and Virgin Media’s cable platform).

ofcom icmr 2012 superfast broadband availability

Sadly take-up of superfast broadband remains very low. Indeed by the end of 2011 just 5% of UK consumers had chosen to adopt a 30Mbps or faster package, which is below most other countries but not significantly so (e.g. Germany came in at 8%, the USA had 7% and the Netherlands held a strong 22%).

By comparison the lowest levels of superfast broadband take-up were found in France (3%), Italy (3%) and Ireland where no connections (0%) were reported to be 30Mbps or faster!

ofcom icmr 2012 broadband speeds

Fixed broadband ISP services in the UK also accounted for 27% of total fixed telecoms revenues (£27.3bn) in 2011, which is up from 19% in 2006 but compares poorly with an average of 39% for all of the other countries (e.g. 25% in Ireland to 55% in France). However this is not strictly a bad result because it reflects “how competition between providers has lowered average revenue per connection” (i.e. cheaper broadband packages for consumers).

Ofcom claims that weighted average prices in the UK were the lowest for all five baskets when buying services individually (e.g. standalone broadband). The UK also had the lowest possible prices for four of the five baskets when bundled services were taken into account.

For example, a family of two adults and two teenage children with average usage needs would pay £146 a month for their communication needs when bought individually (i.e. £32 less than in France, £101 cheaper than Italy and £168 lower than in the USA). When bought as a bundle, the lowest price available to UK consumers was £112, second to France at £94 and half the USA on £224.

ofcom icmr 2012 telecoms revenue

In addition UK consumers now spend £1,083 a year on internet shopping, which is up by 14% from 2010 and “more than any other country” in Ofcom’s research. Australia spent the second highest amount at £842, while Sweden came third on £747. Cheap and widely available internet access appears to breed a strong ecommerce industry, which isn’t too surprising.

Elsewhere some 36% of UK respondents used their smartphones to access the internet in 2012, which is second in Europe only to Spain (43%). Respondents were least likely to use smartphones to go online in France (27%) and Germany (30%).

Check out Ofcom’s full report for a mass of additional data on other services.

Ofcoms 2012 International Communications Market Report
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/…/communications-market-reports/cmr12/international/

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