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Superfast Broadband Covers 73 Percent of UK Postcodes as Uptake Surges

Thursday, August 1st, 2013 (8:57 am) - Score 4,196

Ofcom has published their annual 2013 Communications Market Report, which covers everything about the United Kingdom’s media and telecom industries. The study reveals that NGA / superfast broadband (30Mbps+) ISP services are now available to 73% of the country (up from 65% last year) and uptake has surged to 17.5% (up from just 6.5%) or 3.8 million subscribers.

But it’s important to put this data into context, not least because Ofcom has recently changed its methodology for tracking coverage by postcode (here) and as a result the figures were revised upwards (the original superfast coverage figure for last year was 60% [5% difference]).

Ofcom’s latest estimates show that 48% of UK homes were passed by Virgin Media’s cable broadband network in June 2013, which rises to 56% for BT and Kcom’s combined fibre optic (FTTC/P) based broadband services and this varies significantly across the nations.

digital_services_coverage_2013

As ever we’d also take Ofcom’s 2G and 3G mobile coverage figures with a huge grain of salt as the reality on the ground usually doesn’t match what gets reported, which is something that most consumers have experienced.

Meanwhile the primary reason we have such strong uptake of “superfast” is because of Virgin Media’s double speed upgrade, which has put millions more subscribers on a 30Mbps+ capable package. But Ofcom now expects this “growth to slow” because Virgin are coming to the end of this project and uptake via BT’s FTTC/P services tends to grow at a slower / more natural pace.

superfast_broadband_takeup_2013

Total broadband take-up also remains stable at 75% of UK households (includes households with fixed and/or mobile broadband connections but excludes access via a mobile handset) and some 80% of UK adults now have access to the internet at home via a fixed or mobile broadband connection.

Furthermore 49% of respondents said they personally use their mobile phone to access the internet (up from 36% last year). But only 4% of adults reported that their household’s only means of internet access was via a smartphone. The proportion of households with both fixed telephony and mobile also remained stable, at 84% and 94% respectively, with 15% being ‘mobile-only’ homes.

It’s also worth noting that the general level of consumer satisfaction with fixed line broadband services has increased by just 1% in the last year to 88% overall, while satisfaction with Mobile Broadband services surged from 83% to 90%. Similarly 79% of NGA / superfast broadband subscribers said the download speeds provided by their ISP had met or exceeded their expectations when they purchased the service.

Finally total UK telecoms revenues decreased by 1.8% in 2012 to £38.8bn and this represent an almost identical fall from the 1.9% reported a year earlier. As usual Ofcom’s full report, which also breaks the data down for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is far too big for an easy summary but if you have an entire week free with nothing better to do then feel free to examine its many statistical delights.. all 436 pages of it! Oh yes.

Ofcom’s UK Communications Market Report 2013
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr13/2013_UK_CMR.pdf

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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