This report covers the UK and Ireland, representing key and influential telecom markets. Trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media including VoIP, VoD and IPTV developments. Subjects include:
BuddeComm’s latest UK and Ireland Annual Publication, ‘2007 Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in the UK and Ireland’, profiles two countries with close links between regulators and telcos. Ireland’s small telecom market contrasts with that of the UK, which is among Europe’s largest and most vibrant. Ireland has been slow to develop broadband and digital TV, while the UK has a highly competitive broadband sector and the largest digital TV market in the EU.
In the UK the markets for triple play continued to mature during 2007, while digital TV take-up reached 85% by mid-year. The country began switching off analogue transmissions in October 2007 in a phased program to 2012. The consolidation of the cable market, with Virgin Media the dominant player, has helped rationalise network upgrades while the operator has extended its footprint through wholesale DSL access.
Ireland’s incumbent, eircom, in October 2007 set in train its structural separation, aiming to separate its network infrastructure from its retail business. The model differs from that of BT’s Openreach but if successful it may dramatically boost market competition and provide the stimulus for widespread broadband take-up, encourage investment in network upgrades and promote high-bandwidth triple play services in coming years.
This report presents an overview of telecoms liberalisation and privatisation in the UK and Ireland, together with product offerings for both the mobile and broadband sectors. It provides the latest key statistics for operators in all sectors, highlighting market and technological developments and detailing the emergence of media convergence and triple and quad-play in these two important markets. The report also covers the latest regulatory developments, together with an analysis of NGNs and the strategies of the main players in coming years.
2007 saw further development in quad-play offers, led by Virgin Media and BSkyB through its Sky Broadband, Sky Talk and Sky Plus brands. In October 2007 BSkyB launched a pared down version of its pay TV, broadband and telephone services under a new brand, Picnic. The company’s equipment has been installed in BT exchanges covering 70% of UK homes.
To address the UK’s relatively low broadband download speeds the regulator in October 2007 promoted the concept of a national fibre network costing up to £15 billion, with the potential for regulatory intervention to safeguard operator investment sin the sector.
eircom sought government approval to split company’s wholesale and retail divisions into two separate operations, with different owners. The structural separation would go some way to address the country’s poor broadband infrastructure and take-up, though the company may expect its fibre network to be closed to competitors for up to five years as a part of any deal.
The UK’s digital and pay TV markets is among the most developed in Europe, with a range of services reached by about 85% of the population.
The Mobile TV market was strengthened in 2007 with deals between operators and content providers - H3 with BSkyB, Orange and Vodafone with the BBC. H3 in April 2007 launched free advertising-funded mobile TV, while an advertising-funded MVNO, Blyk, may prove to be one of the more successful business models in the market.
Broadband subscribers and penetration in the UK and Ireland - 2004 - 2007
Year Subscribers Penetration Subscribers Penetration
2004 6,129,300 10% 135,000 3%
2005 9,840,500 17% 270,700 6%
2006 13,111,600 24% 517,300 12%
2007 (e) 17,250,000 28% 685,000 17%
(Source: BuddeComm based on industry sources)
For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on this region, this 170+ page report is essential reading and gives further information on:
eircom’s structural separation, its impact on broadband take-up, and the regulatory measures needed to guarantee equality of access for competitors;
Ireland’s mobile market following eircom’s award of a 3G licence;
The growing demand for IPTV, VoD and other triple play services and its effect in stimulating both DSL and cable network upgrades;
The changing face of converged media with widespread triple play services becoming a standard feature in homes.