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Broadband in the UK to Stay Top of the 5 Major EU Countries Until 2020

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 (8:30 am) - Score 1,429

A new BT commissioned report from telecoms analyst firm Analysys Mason has perhaps unsurprisingly found that the take-up and availability of superfast broadband (30Mbps+) connectivity in the United Kingdom is ahead of Spain, Germany, Italy and France, and will remain there until at least 2020.

The benchmarking report marks the United Kingdom as the “most competitive broadband market of all the countries it features“, although there are a few caveats to its findings. For example, the report overlooks most of Europe’s other states, including those with superior broadband infrastructure to ours, and seems to only focus on fixed line networks.

Furthermore it also makes an assumption that the current roll-out progress will hold to the Government’s promised targets, which may well be the case but we won’t know for certain until 2020. In addition, the study only appears to consider “superfast” services (defined as 30Mbps+ in the report), which overlooks the important area of “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) connectivity.

uk vs europe broadband benchmark 2015

The UK Ranking (Relative to the “big five” European Countries)

1st superfast broadband coverage:
More than 78% of premises could access superfast broadband at the end of 2014 in the UK. This compares with 77% in Germany, the next best-performing country, and 34% in Italy, the worst performing of the big five. Analysys Mason expects that by 2018, more than 95% of UK premises will have access to superfast broadband, keeping it ahead of the other large European markets.

1st for superfast broadband take-up:
Adoption was higher in the UK at the end of 2014 than anywhere else in the big five, at 28% of premises. By 2020, Analysys Mason predicts that 78% of UK premises will subscribe to superfast broadband, outperforming the big five and even Japan (64%) and the USA (69%).

1st for the overall competitiveness of the broadband market:
Based on retail market shares.

2nd for retail broadband prices:
Supported by the UK’s wholesale prices which are between the lowest available and the European average.

However it’s noted that, as the UK approaches ubiquitous superfast broadband coverage, its lead over the Western European average will decline as other countries catch up. The study notes that by the end of the decade all of the listed countries should have at least 80% superfast broadband coverage and most will be in touching distance of the UK.

In relation to that the UK’s score for superfast broadband coverage somewhat stalls in 2018, which isn’t surprising since most of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK contracts with BT and others are due to complete their 95% coverage targets at around the same time.

uk vs europe broadband coverage 2015

After 2018 the UK’s superfast broadband coverage doesn’t appear to improve at all until 2020 and indeed nobody seems able to reach the EU’s 100% coverage target for the same year. But of course this projection might change over the next few months when a policy and funding to fix the final 5% is unveiled.

Elsewhere the take-up of superfast broadband will remain “significantly higher” in the UK than in most other European markets in 2020 (78% compared with the Western European average of 55%). This higher adoption will, claims the report, “largely be a result of the UK rolling out a superfast network earlier and more rapidly than other European countries“. It’s also in no small part supported by Virgin Media bringing superfast speeds to their entire customer base.

The report also briefly compares the cost of national broadband plans in the UK with those in other countries that have similar plans. It finds that the approach taken in the UK “costs less, leverages private-sector capital to a greater degree, and provides extensive coverage of superfast broadband“. But some comparative data for the EU5 is missing to support this.

For example, based on cost per premise passed, the UK government’s final funding will allegedly equate to around £189 per premise passed, which Analysys Mason says is lower than Singapore (£639) and far less than planned in New Zealand (£1,635) and Australia (£2,915). Mind you the figures for Australia seem to vary almost as much as the country’s policy (it just changed again recently), so take with a big pinch of salt. Sadly no figures are given for the EU5, which seems like a rather big oversight.

Finally, the report also offers a glimpse of actual download speeds (this should not be taken as a reflection of service availability) across our closest EU competitors, which uses data from Ofcom, Ookla and Akamai. In this table we don’t perform so well as in others and the report admits that good data is hard to find, thus unsurprisingly this aspect is not included in the opening ranking.

uk vs europe broadband speeds 2015

Overall it’s an interesting study, although it doesn’t tell us much that Ofcom hasn’t already covered as part of their annual European Broadband Scorecard report and the forecast for 2020 is as ever very much subject to the Government targets being met (in that time other EU country’s may also improve or change their policy).

So far the progress has been good, but seeing beyond 2018 is still very much in the realm of guesswork until a firm strategy has been defined.

Analysys Mason’s International Benchmarking Report 2015

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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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10 Responses
  1. Avatar PeterM says:

    Is this a fair comparison? Our population density is far higher than the other four main EU countries. Maybe a comparison with the Netherlands would give a clearer idea of our true performance.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I noticed NL was missing, too. How odd 😉

      I wonder what would happen if you re-ran all the data using 100Mbps as the threshold, given that in 2020, 30Mbps won’t be ‘superfast broadband’.

    2. Avatar gerarda says:

      These comparisons with the European basket case economies are merely PR puff to make things look better.

  2. Avatar Ignition says:

    It’s a superfarce. The copper cabal need more fibre – moral and optic.

    Sorry – had to be done 🙂

    1. Avatar mrpops2ko says:

      Yes. We need men of fibre. Moral and Optic.

      Hey – I wanted to join in too!

    2. Avatar Neil says:

      LOL 😉 in this instance with the threats of separation over BT Openreacj they may have a point with the “superfarce” statement as it is indeed a “A new BT commissioned report”. Im sure i could get an analyst to say im the greatest man on the planet if i paid’em enough also 😉

    3. Avatar Chris Conder says:

      Yes it has to be said, and thanks for saying it. One day we’ll be heard from behind the barricades?

  3. Avatar Externality says:

    The interesting thing about this report commissioned by BT is that the high scores in superfast broadband are almost certainly primarily due to Virgin’s coverage and customers. If one were to compare BT’s superfast broadband coverage and customer take-up to the other 5 big EU countries’ incumbents I suspect the ranking would be much different. With this report BT cannot claim it is doing much for superfast broadband, rather it is singing the praises of cable’s success.

    1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

      Very true. Competition is the only driver. If it wasn’t for Virgin we’d all still be on dial up in the cities as well.

  4. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    It is indeed a superfarce. What a mess we’re letting them make of our digital britain dreams. Patching up old phone networks and rebranding green boxes as fibre does not make it so. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/126734176991632343/ Only dead fish go with the flow, it isn’t fibre broadband unless its fibre to the home. heck yeah.

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