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Report for Government on UK’s broadband progress

March 5, 2013

Ofcom has today published a report for the Government on the coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice of fixed and mobile broadband services in the UK, relative to other European countries.

The ‘European Broadband Scorecard’ was proposed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to allow the Government to measure progress towards its ambition that the UK should have the best superfast broadband network of any major European country by 2015.1

Ofcom has agreed to collate and publish the Scorecard, using the most robust, comparable and up-to-date data available. The Scorecard focuses on the UK’s position within the European Union’s five leading economies – the ‘EU5’: France, Germany, Italy and Spain and the UK.2

The UK generally performs well among major European economies. On all measures of coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice, the country ranks between third and first in the EU5. The report finds that the UK:

  • has approximately the same fixed broadband take-up, at 32 connections per 100 people, as France and Germany. Take-up in these three markets is considerably higher than in Italy and Spain;
  • lies third among the EU5 for superfast broadband coverage, slightly behind Germany and Spain but ahead of Italy and France in this very new market. In June 2012 superfast coverage had reached 65% of UK premises;
  • has high mobile broadband take-up (the second highest in the EU5 with 64 connections per 100 people, narrowly behind Spain);
  • has very wide internet usage (highest in the EU5, with 81% of individuals online);
  • benefits from highly competitive broadband markets. The proportion of fixed lines operated by the incumbent (BT, with 31%) is the lowest in the EU5, while the market share of the largest mobile operator (EE, with 33%) is the joint lowest;
  • has some of the lowest fixed and mobile broadband prices. When assessing various measures of price, the UK leads the EU5 in eight metrics out of twelve.

Coverage and take-up of superfast broadband has increased in the UK since much of the European-comparable data was collected. Operators are currently accelerating fibre roll-out, cable broadband speeds are being increased and the Government is proceeding with its programme of publicly-funded superfast deployment in rural areas, which gained European Commission approval in November.

Next steps

Ofcom expects to publish any future Scorecards – assuming that sufficiently robust and comparable data is available – as part of its annual International Communications Market Report.

The European Broadband Scorecard is available here.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. In December 2010, the Government published a report setting out its ambition that the UK should have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. In August last year, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport set a specific target that the UK should have the fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015.
  2. The factors that affect the development of broadband networks, such as geography, population size and density and legacy infrastructure, differ significantly between the 27 EU Member States. For these reasons, Ofcom has compared the UK’s broadband network with those in other major European economies.
  3. As the data and methodologies must be comparable across member states, some of the figures in the Scorecard relate to the end of 2011, and may differ from those given in other Ofcom documents. As Ofcom has not identified appropriate datasets that would allow accurate, comparable estimates of national fixed-line download, fixed-line upload and mobile download speeds, measures of speed are not included in the Scorecard.

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