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UK Ended 2016 with 25.25 Million Home and Small Biz Broadband Lines

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 (11:00 am) - Score 636

Ofcom’s latest Q4 2016 Telecoms Market Data Tables have revealed that the United Kingdom ended last year with a total of 25,250,000 fixed residential and small business broadband lines, which is a quarterly increase of +216K (0.9%) and a year-on-year rise of 542K (2.2%).

Once again the regulator’s latest data shows an increasing movement of consumers away from older and slower ADSL based pure copper broadband lines and on to the new generation of faster hybrid fibre (FTTC, Cable DOCSIS etc.) and pure fibre optic (FTTP/H) services, such as those being supplied by Virgin Media and Openreach (BT).

Overall some 44.83% of lines were using some form of “fibre” based broadband service in Q3 2016 and this has increased steadily to 46.32% at the end of Q4 2016. Meanwhile the total number of ADSL based lines fell by nearly a million (-903,000) from 14,458,000 in Q4 2015 to 13,555,000 in Q4 2016.

ofcom telecoms broadband data tables q4 2016

Never the less it’s still the case that a little over half of the country remain connected to the cheaper but slower ADSL packages, which is despite “fibre” based services now being estimated to cover over 92% of UK premises. However Ofcom’s recent proposal to slash the wholesale price of Openreach’s 40Mbps FTTC product (here), as well as separate moves to offer an 18Mbps FTTC profile (here), could help to increase the pace of change.

Elsewhere the update reveals that the total number of fixed phone / exchange lines (including PSTN and ISDN channels) is now 33.51 million, which reflects 26,402,000 residential lines (up from 26,359,000 in Q3) and 7,109,000 business lines (down from 7,226,000 in Q3).

In both residential and business markets BT lost the most lines, with Virgin Media and other ISPs tending to pick-up their connections in the residential market. Business lines suffered a general decline across the board, with Virgin Media being the only one to increase their share from 444,000 in Q3 to 511,000 in Q4 2016.

Elsewhere total UK fixed line voice retail revenues were £2.1bn in Q4 2016, which has been fairly flat for the past few quarters. BT’s (excluding EE) share of these revenues was 32.8%, which is 0.4% points higher than it had been a year previously.

Finally, on the Mobile telecoms front, the UK is now home to 83.51 million mobile subscriptions and that’s down from 83.74 million in Q3 (the decline came from pay-as-you-go services). Mobile telephony services also generated £3.9bn in retail revenues during Q4 2016, which is a £15m (0.4%) decrease from the previous quarter and a £30m (0.8%) increase compared to Q4 2015.

The total number of outgoing SMS and MMS messages was 23.7 billion in Q4 2016, down 0.3 billion (1.4%) on the previous quarter and down 1.5 billion messages (5.9%) compared to Q4 2015.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar MikeW says:

    That column labelled “Other, inc FTTx” in table 16 seems to be awry.

    BT’s quarterly results have reported the following totals for Openreach supply of FTTx for each quarter:
    09/15: +415k, to 5.0m
    12/15: +494k, to 5.5m
    03/16: +415k, to 5.9m
    06/16: +333k, to 6.2m
    09/16: +440k, to 6.7m
    12/16: +498k, to 7.2m

    Ofcom looks to have a matching figure for 2015 Q4, to BT’s “12/15” figure. Since then, Ofcom seem to have steadily under-reported, and now seem to be half a million short.

    And that is without considering any other CP contributing to the “Other” column.

    The column for “Cable” does match VM’s quarterly figures.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes they often seem to give wonky figures for the “Other” column, which often gets revised again at a later date. As ever with Ofcom’s data, take with a pinch of salt, although the broad trends are correct.

      I’ve tried to seek clarity on this in the past but not really had a useful response.

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