Ofcom report: UK lags competitors in take up of superfast broadband

By Derek du Preez
14 Dec 2011 View Comments
An Ofcom logo

Just 4.3 per cent of the UK population has taken up superfast broadband services, despite it offering better coverage than France, Germany and other major competitors.

This is according to Ofcom's sixth annual International Communications Market report.

Further reading

By the end of 2010, the coverage of superfast networks in the UK compared favourably with other countries in Europe; 48 per cent of the population had access to a next generation broadband service from Virgin Media and 15 per cent of the population had access to similar services from BT.

This compares with 6 per cent of the population having access to a next generation service in France, 26 per cent in Germany and 12 per cent in Italy.

However, despite the UK having some of the best access, take up is still lagging other countries.

"It is clear there is significant variation in the take-up of superfast services globally, and that in some nations, such as the UK, only a small proportion of consumers take superfast services even when they are available, while in Sweden, Russia and Japan more than a third of households covered by superfast services subscribe to them," reads the report.

Sweden's take up is 13 per cent; Japan's is 39 per cent and Russia 9.6 per cent.

Ofcom states that this is likely to be a result of the relative cost of superfast services compared with basic broadband services.

For example, Virgin Media's 50Mbit/s cable service is £25 per month (November 2011), nearly double the price of its basic 10Mbit/s service (£13.50 per month); and only 5 per cent of Virgin Media's customer base had taken up the premium service by the end of June 2011.

This compares with the situation in Russia and Sweden, where fibre broadband is "often the least expensive fixed broadband service in towns and cities".

Despite this, Ofcom's chief executive, Ed Richards, remains positive about the state of the UK's communications market.

"Across the globe people are embracing e-commerce and social media with enthusiasm. Our research shows that the UK communications market is performing well with prices, the range of services and innovation comparing well with international benchmarks," said Richards.

Reader comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Windows 10 - will you upgrade?

Microsoft has made an early version of Windows 10 - its next operating system - available for download. The OS promises better integration and harmonisation across platforms, including mobile and desktop. Will your business be upgrading?

36 %
31 %
13 %
20 %