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Ofcom Scorecard Reveals UK vs EU Broadband Rollout Progress

Tuesday, Mar 5th, 2013 (11:13 am) - Score 1,344

The communications regulator, Ofcom, has today published its first European Broadband Scorecard that shows how the United Kingdom compares with the EU in terms of the progress towards its ambition that the UK should have “the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015“. Apparently we do.. ok.

Europe’s Digital Agenda expects 100% of Households to have access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2020 (50% must also be within reach of 100Mbps+) and everybody is also supposed to gain access to a basic broadband (0.5-4Mbps) connection by 2013.

By comparison the UK has set aside almost £1bn to help 90% of people gain access to internet download speeds of 25Mbps+ by sometime in 2015 (with 100% having access to speeds of at least 2Mbps), although no firm plan for the 2015-2020 period has been established.

Last year the former Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, craftily clarified (here) that he wanted the country to have the “fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015” (i.e. comparing us against France, Germany, Italy and Spain [EU5] rather than the whole of Europe). This is crucial because some EU countries, such as Sweden, already have more advanced FTTH telecoms infrastructure.

But the UK government also intends to rate our progress towards achieving this goal based on more than just speed and will also factor in other measures like coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice. Overall Ofcom reports that the United Kingdom, which “generally performs well“, ranks roughly between third and first place out of the EU5 countries.

UK vs Europe – Ofcoms Broadband Scorecard

* The UK has approximately the same fixed broadband take-up, at 32 connections per 100 people, as France and Germany. Take-up in these three markets is considerably higher than in Italy and Spain;

* The UK lies third among the EU5 for superfast broadband coverage, slightly behind Germany and Spain but ahead of Italy and France in this very new market. In June 2012 superfast coverage had reached 65% of UK premises;

* The UK has high mobile broadband take-up (the second highest in the EU5 with 64 connections per 100 people, narrowly behind Spain);

* The UK has very wide internet usage (highest in the EU5, with 81% of individuals online);

* The UK benefits from highly competitive broadband markets. The proportion of fixed lines operated by the incumbent (BT, with 31%) is the lowest in the EU5, while the market share of the largest mobile operator (EE, with 33%) is the joint lowest;

* The UK has some of the lowest fixed and mobile broadband prices. When assessing various measures of price, the UK leads the EU5 in eight metrics out of twelve.

The report is based on data that has already been released as part of previous UK and EU reports and in future Ofcom confirms that it will publish any future Scorecards – “assuming that sufficiently robust and comparable data is available” – as part of its annual International Communications Market Report (ICMR).

It should be stressed that the state aid supported Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework has only recently begun to make some actual headway, which means that our current position in the scorecard has been largely as a result of investment by the private sector (some exceptions should be noted, such as the project in Cornwall and Digital Region in South Yorkshire).

The full report, which is linked below, does rather handily also compare the UK with the other EU27 countries for a perhaps more useful perspective; unfortunately this doesn’t cover everything. Indeed one rather massive oversight is the fact that Ofcom could not find any comparable data of real-world broadband ISP speeds in the other EU countries. So how useful is this for a comparison? Not very.

The European Broadband Scorecard (PDF)

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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