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Ofcom's Consumer Experience Report
By: MarkJ - 17 November, 2006 (9:44 AM)

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has published a report into the 'Consumer Experience' of modern media and communication services, which includes Internet access - HERE. It's a long read, but some interesting details can be found.

Broadband xDSL (ADSL etc.) technology currently covers 99% of the UK, with Cable doing 45% and LLU (unbundled BT exchanges) able to reach 44%. PC ownership naturally also plays a part in those able to get online:

Overall PC ownership has been steadily increasing and stands at 68% of adults in 2006. The percentage of consumers connecting to the internet has reflected this increase, at 61%.

Meanwhile 73% of Internet users connect via a broadband connection, compared with 47% at the end of 2004. Of these, a quarter stated they use a wireless router. Broadband use has been increasing steadily over the past few years with a subsequent decrease in narrowband.

Internationally, the UK showed broadband take-up rates that were around average for the countries included in the analysis. In 2005 the UKís 39 connections per 100 (39%) households was significantly ahead of Germany (28%), Italy (31%) and Ireland (18%). However, the UK was still behind Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Over a third (38%) of broadband customers were also unable to state the speed at which they connect. Even when prompted, 17% are unsure whether their connection is above or below 512Kbps. The remaining broadband customers are able to indicate, when prompted, whether their connection speed is higher or lower than 512Kbps. It gets worse:

The majority of consumers do not know what a contention ratio is and when the term is explained to them, 63% are still unaware. Over half (52%) do not know how to check what speeds they are receiving Ė consistent with the proportion unaware of their speed. Despite this lack of knowledge regarding speed of connection, most broadband customers believe the speeds they receive either meet (45%) or exceed their initial expectations (39%) and 90% of broadband customers say they are satisfied with their speeds.

Consumers indicate confusion over the amount of data their subscription allows them to download. 71% of broadband customers believe they have unlimited downloading capability and a further 10% are unsure. In reality the majority of current broadband contracts specify some sort of usage cap.

Elsewhere two-fifths of adults (39%) did not have access to the internet at the end of Q1 2006 and 17% said they did not intend to connect in the next 12 months. Uncertainty (in relation to whether or not consumers are likely to take up this service) is highest in the broadband market

Interestingly the report also suggests that there are around 700 ISP's operating in the UK, which seems a little high, but also appears to include vISPís and resellers. Plenty more in the report.

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