United Kingdom - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
UK government adds to private sector investment for fibre broadband
The UK’s telecom market, one of the largest in Europe, is characterised by fierce competition in the mobile and broadband sectors. This has helped push up service penetration while helping to reduce consumer prices across the board. Network capabilities have also been greatly expanded following investments by the two principal telcos British Telecom and Virgin Media. Other operators including TalkTalk Group and Sky have made considerable effort to expand their quad-play offerings and so enable them to compete more effectively.
The mobile market is served by major providers which also have 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 them 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. Later in the year the broadcaster Sky joined the market through its Sky Mobile offering, while a growing number of low-cost MVNOs provide effective price and service competition for subscribers.
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 use, while operators continue to trial 5G technologies with a number of key vendor partners.
The broadband market enjoys excellent cross-platform competition. DSL infrastructure is comprehensively available, while the main cable operator Virgin Media, owned by Liberty Global, aims to increase its footprint to cover about two-thirds of premises by 2019. The DSL network has been upgraded during the last few years with VDSL and Long Reach VDSL technologies, while British Telecom is also introducing G.fast as part of its multi-technology mix to provide ultra-fast broadband services to some 12 million premises by 2020. Virgin Media has also entered the fibre market, aiming to provide FttP to about one million customers while most of the remainder will eventually be serviced with the new DOCSIS3.1 standard. Openreach’s wholesale FttP service covered some 327,000 premises by the end of 2016 and is expected to reach over two million by the end of 2020.
For its part, the government has committed to invest over £1 billion in broadband infrastructure through new investment funds, including £400 million in rolling out FttP services.
This report provides analyses on the key aspects of the UK’s telecom market, presenting statistics on the fixed network services sector and an overview of the key regulatory issues. The report also surveys the mobile market, providing an overview of mobile statistics, an assessment of emerging technologies and services, and profiles of the major operators and MVNOs. In addition the report covers the broadband and digital media markets, including data on broadband technologies, and an assessment of regulatory matters and operator strategies aimed at delivering superfast broadband capabilities.
BT and Huawei trial 3Tb/s channel over existing fibre;
Ofcom develops plan for Openreach to be given greater independence within BT Group;
Vodafone aiming to close 3G infrastructure by 2020;
Sky enters the mobile market via its MVNO Sky Mobile;
MTRs set to May 2018;
BT retains EE as a separate business post-acquisition;
MNOs extend Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE services;
700MHz spectrum to be made available for mobile data services by mid-2020;
Ofcom identifies four frequency bands for 5G use, plans 5G licensing by 2018;
Vodafone trials LTE-V2X technology;
Openreach aiming to commercialise Dark Fibre Access product by October 2017;
CityFibre expands 1Gb/s reach; BT developing G.fast technology to provide 1Gb/s services;
Virgin Media introduces a 330Mb/s broadband service;
Hyperoptic expands its FttP network;
Government to invest £1 billion of fibre infrastructure and 5G technologies;
Average download speed approaches 29Mb/s;
Report update includes the regulator’s market data for 2016, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q2 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Virgin Media, BT, KCom, Orange, Cable & Wireless, COLT Telecom, Carphone Warehouse, H3, Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (EE, incorporating T-Mobile and Orange), Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media, BT, KCom, Orange, Carphone Warehouse, Sky, Freeview, BBC, Tiscali.