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United Kingdom - Mobile Infrastructure, Broadband, Operators - Statistics and Analyses


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United Kingdom - Mobile Infrastructure, Broadband, Operators - Statistics and Analyses

The UK has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, both in terms of revenue and in the number of subscribers. It is served by several major providers having a significant international presence. Recent merger activity has seen dramatic consolidation in the market and has had knock-on effects for network infrastructure deals struck between operators in recent years. The merger of Orange and T-Mobile created EE as the largest operator, which in January 2016 was sold to BT, becoming a separate business unit within BT Group. The bid by Hutchison to acquire O2 was rejected by the European Commission in May 2016 on the grounds that the deal would have reduced the number of MNOs to three, and so impacted on market competition.

The market has room for a growing number of low-cost MVNOs providing effective price and service competition for subscribers. The market has also been characterised by developments in advanced data services delivered over upgraded networks, the bundling of mobile as a quad-play service, and regulatory controls on charges and fees. Mobile penetration is above the EU average, yet subscriber growth remains strong as consumers adopt additional SIM cards as well as business-oriented devices and smartphones on various platforms.

Anticipated auctions for spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands will see more bandwidth made available for mobile broadband services, supported by regulatory moves which allow the refarming of 2G spectrum for 3G and 4G use. This spectrum is also being allocated for 5G, while operators continue to trial 5G technologies with a number of key vendor partners.

This report surveys the UK's mobile market, providing an overview of mobile statistics, regulatory issues and technologies. It also profiles the major operators and MVNOs, and looks ahead to mobile market developments in coming years.

Key developments

Progress made in 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction for 5G use; Vodafone aiming to close 3G infrastructure by 2020; Sky enters the mobile market via its MVNO Sky Mobile; MTRs set to May 2018; EE achieves 2.8Gb/s in pre-5G trials; MNOs extend Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE services; new rules for MNP proposed; government commits £150 million to its Mobile Infrastructure Project to improve rural mobile coverage; 4G auction in 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands delivers £2.34 billion; Ofcom identifies four frequency bands for 5G use, plans 5G licensing in 2018; Vodafone trials LTE-V2X technology; report update includes the regulator's market updates to June 2017, telcos' financial and operating data to Q3 2017, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

H3, Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (BT/EE, incorporating the former T-Mobile UK and Orange UK), Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile.


1. Synopsis
2. Market analysis
3. Mobile statistics
3.1 Operator market shares
3.2 Mobile voice
3.3 Mobile data
3.3.1 SMS and MMS
3.4 Mobile broadband
3.5 Forecasts mobile subscribers 2018; 2020; 2022
4. Regulatory issues
4.1 Spectrum regulations
4.2 Spectrum refarming
4.3 Spectrum sharing
4.4 Spectrum 2.6GHz
4.5 Spectrum 800MHz
4.6 Spectrum 900MHz
4.7 Spectrum 700MHz
4.8 Spectrum 1800MHz
4.9 Spectrum 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz
4.10 Spectrum 3.8GHz
4.11 Revised licence conditions
4.12 Spectrum auctions
4.13 Roaming
4.14 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
4.15 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
5. Mobile infrastructure
5.1 Digital networks
5.1.1 3G
5.1.2 LTE
5.1.3 5G
5.2 IoT and M2M networks
6. Major mobile operators
6.1 Hutchison 3
6.2 O2
6.2.1 Proposed sale to H3
6.3 Vodafone
6.3.1 Project Spring
6.3.2 Sales and acquisitions
6.4 EE
6.4.1 Sale to BT
6.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
6.5.1 Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
7. Mobile content and applications
7.1.1 Mobile applications
7.1.2 M-payment MNO collaboration
7.1.3 Operator platforms
7.1.4 Contactless payments
7.1.5 m-ticketing
7.1.6 m-banking
7.1.7 m-health
8. Related reports
Table 1 Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes 2003 - 2017
Table 2 Mobile retail revenue by service 2002 - 2017
Table 3 Historic - Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2009
Table 4 Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 2010 - 2018
Table 5 Mobile ARPU by contract, prepaid 2006 - 2017
Table 6 Average household spend of fixed-voice, mobile and internet services 2008 - 2016
Table 7 Prepaid and contract subscribers 2002 - 2017
Table 8 Mobile market share by operator 2004 - 2016
Table 9 Mobile data traffic 2013 - 2015
Table 10 Average mobile data traffic per user 2011 - 2017
Table 11 SMS and MMS messages sent 2004 - 2018
Table 12 Average SMS traffic per month by contract type 2010 - 2015
Table 13 SMS and MMS revenue 2015 - 2017
Table 14 Dedicated mobile broadband subscribers 2008 - 2017
Table 15 Active mobile broadband subscribers 2009 - 2017
Table 16 Broadband take-up by technology 2007 - 2016
Table 17 Forecast mobile subscribers 2018; 2020; 2022
Table 18 European roaming charges 2007 2016
Table 19 European data roaming charges 2014 - 2017
Table 20 MTRs by operator (pence per minute) 2015 - 2017
Table 21 LTE subscribers 2013 - 2018
Table 22 Average 3G and 4G speeds (Mb/s) 2014 - 2015
Table 23 O2 LTE subscribers and penetration 2014 - 2017
Table 24 EE LTE subscribers 2013 - 2015
Table 25 M2M connections 2010 - 2017
Table 26 O2 M2M accesses 2014 - 2017
Table 27 3 UK registered subscribers by sector 2008 - 2017
Table 28 3 UK financial data 2008 - 2016
Table 29 3 UK annualised gross ARPU by sector 2009 - 2016
Table 30 O2 financial data 2007 - 2017
Table 31 O2 ARPU blended, contract, prepaid and data 2006 - 2017
Table 32 O2 proportion of data to service revenue 2006 - 2017
Table 33 O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract 2005 - 2017
Table 34 Vodafone end-year ARPU blended, contract and prepaid 2005 - 2017
Table 35 Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid 2001 - 2016
Table 37 Vodafone customer churn 2007 - 2017
Table 38 Vodafone Group revenue by sector 2007 - 2018
Table 39 Vodafone UK mobile service revenue by sector 2009 - 2018
Table 40 Vodafone mobile customer retention cost 2007 - 2017
Table 41 Vodafone customer smartphone adoption 2010 - 2016
Table 42 EE quarterly revenue 2009 - 2016
Table 43 EE financial data (old format) 2011 - 2015
Table 44 EE mobile revenue (new format under BT) 2017 - 2018
Table 45 EE ARPU (Q4) 2009 - 2017
Table 46 EE subscriber data 2009 - 2017
Table 47 Virgin Mobile subscribers 2005 - 2017
Table 48 Virgin Mobile revenue 2007 - 2017
Chart 1 Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes 2003 - 2017
Chart 2 Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 2003 - 2018
Chart 3 Prepaid and contract subscribers 2002 - 2017
Chart 4 3 UK subscribers by sector 2008 - 2017
Chart 5 3 UK ARPU by sector 2009 2017
Chart 6 O2 financial data 2007 - 2017
Chart 7 O2 annualised ARPU blended, contract, prepaid and data 2006 - 2017
Chart 8 O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract 2005 - 2017
Chart 9 Vodafone ARPU blended, contract and prepaid 2005 - 2017
Chart 10 Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid 2001 - 2017
Chart 12 EE ARPU 2009 - 2017
Chart 13 EE subscriber data 2009 - 2017
Exhibit 1 Spectrum available for mobile services
Exhibit 2 Spectrum awards 800MHz and 2.6GHz 2013
Exhibit 3 Spectrum auction results 10GHz February 2008
Exhibit 4 3G licence results April 2000
Exhibit 5 3G licensee and infrastructure suppliers

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