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Ofcom Scorecard Highlights UK Strengths vs EU Broadband Rollout Progress

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 (10:45 am) - Score 1,126

The national telecoms regulator has today published their latest EU Broadband Scorecard and 2014 International Communications Market Report (ICMR), which among other things shows how the United Kingdom compares with Europe’s other countries in terms of our progress towards the Government’s ambition that we should have the “fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015“.

Europe’s Digital Agenda programme seeks to ensure that 100% of Households have access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2020 (plus 50% must be subscribed to a 100Mbps+ service). By comparison the Broadband Delivery UK project is spending around £1.7bn of public money to ensure that 95% of the United Kingdom can access fixed line “superfast” speeds of “greater than 24Mbps” by 2017 (rising to 99% by 2018 when you include wireless and mobile broadband services).

It’s worth noting that the United Kingdom’s coalition Government originally said that they wanted us to have “the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015“. But in 2012 this was watered down by the former Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, who 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).

The above adjustment is crucial because some EU countries, such as Sweden, already have more advanced pure fibre optic (FTTH/P) telecoms infrastructure. On top of that the measure the Government uses must factor in other elements than connection speed, such as coverage, take-up, price (affordability) and choice. So how do we fair?

Firstly, Ofcom has marked a lot of the data on their Broadband Scorecard as “to be updated: Q1 2015“. As such the vast majority of its information seems largely out-of-date because much of it stems from Europe’s own Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2013, which we already covered in May 2014 (here). Never the less we can summarise with their ranking table.

ofcom uk broadband scorecard 2014

Overall the UK has a similar fixed line broadband take-up, at 34 connections per 100 people, as France (35) and to a lesser extent Germany (38). Take-up in these three markets is considerably higher than in Italy (23) and Spain (26).

In terms of superfast broadband coverage, Ofcom recently reported that 78% of residential and small commercial premises in the UK are covered by NGA networks (with 75% of premises having a connection that can deliver more than 30Mbit/s). It’s noted that the figure of 75% increases in Ofcom’s data to a range of 80-85% when you talk purely about “households“.

Ofcom said the UK continues to have the highest level of coverage amongst the EU5 for NGA broadband (using either the Commission’s data or Ofcom’s infrastructure report data), with coverage growing by higher levels than the remainder of the EU5. Italy has the lowest level of coverage of the EU5 (20-25%).

ofcom_uk_nga_broadband_coverage_2014_q4

In terms of affordability, we also have some of the lowest overall prices, although Germany beats us in some areas and Italy appears to offer more affordable Mobile Broadband (at least in terms of data usage). However it should be noted that Three UK offer “all-you-can-eat” data for Smartphone users, although this does exclude Tethering.

ofcom_uk_broadband_scorecard_prices_2014

So far, so reasonable, but what about if we expand the net out to compare the United Kingdom with other major countries around Europe and the world in general. In short, we don’t perform too poorly but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The lack of pure fibre optic (FTTH/P/B) connectivity is also rather obvious.

ofcom_uk_world_nga_broadband_availability_2014_q4
ofcom_uk_scorecard_broadband_speeds_2014_q4

Anyway, as much as we’d like to sit here and ingest the hundreds of pages in Ofcom’s spam of new reports this week, other work needs doing.

Ofcoms 2014 European Broadband Scorecard
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr14/icmr/EU_Scorecard_2014.pdf

Ofcoms 2014 International Communications Market Report
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr14/icmr/ICMR_6.pdf

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Mark Jackson
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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