United Kingdom - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

United Kingdom - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

UK preps for 2021 5G spectrum auctions

The UK's telecom market remains one of the largest in Europe, characterised by fierce competition which has resulted in reduced pricing for end-users. Following some market consolidation in the mobile segment there are four key players and a number of MVNOs. Mobile broadband in coming years will place some additional pressure on the fixed-line broadband subscriber base as customers are tempted to migrate to 5G-enabled services. The fixed-line broadband sector has seen the steady decline in DSL and the ongoing efforts among a good number of operators to expand the reach of fibre networks. This is being supported by government efforts to encourage the right economic environment facilitating the ambition to have a fully-fibred UK.

The fixed-line voice segment is being similarly repositioned, with PSTN services making way for IP-delivered content. BT's independent wholesale unit Openreach planned to complete the switch to fibre by 2025, and since September 2020 the unit has stopped offering copper-based products to fibre-enabled premises.

The UK's broadband sector is fast migrating from copper to fibre. By September 2020 about 7.9 million premises were able to access a gigabit broadband service from full fibre or Virgin Media's DOCSIS3.1 network. The vast majority of premises could access superfast broadband (of at least 30Mb/s).

The government's own gigabit ambitions were scaled back in November 2020. Under its 2025 Gigabit program, a gigabit service was to be made available nationally, but this this was changed to 85% coverage.

The mobile market is also one of the largest in Europe, both in terms of revenue and in the number of subscribers. The market has room for a growing number of low-cost MVNOs providing effective price and service competition for subscribers. The country has developed one of the strongest 5G segments, with all MNOs increasing their footprints after having launched services progressively since 2019.

Auctions for spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands made more bandwidth available for mobile broadband services, supported by regulatory moves which allowed the refarming of 2G spectrum. Spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands will be auctioned in early 2021, having been being allocated for 5G use.

This report analyses 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 including the status of interconnection, local loop unbundling, and carrier preselection. The report reviews the major fixed network telcos and examines the status of fixed-line voice services following the deregulation of the retail call market sector. The report also assesses the fixed and fixed-wireless broadband markets, covering technologies and including statistics and an update on recent commercial initiatives. In addition, the report surveys the UK's mobile voice and data markets, 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.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

Government bans Huawei equipment in 5G networks from September 2021;
Vodafone to switch off its 3G network by 2022;
Liberty Global and O2 announce merger;
Openreach to stop selling copper products to FttP-enabled premises by September 2021;
Ofcom clears 700MHz spectrum for January 2021 auction;
Government to invest £1 billion of fibre infrastructure and 5G technologies, scales back gigabit broadband coverage to 85% by 2025;
Report update includes the regular's market updates to June 2020, telcos' financial and operating data to Q3 2020, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Virgin Media, BT, KCom, Orange, Cable & Wireless, COLT Telecom, Dixons Carphone Group, Sky, O2, H3, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere (BT/EE, incorporating the former T-Mobile UK and Orange UK), Tesco Mobile


  • Executive Summary
  • Key statistics
    • Table Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – United Kingdom – 2020 (e)
  • Regional European Market Comparison
    • EUROPE TELECOM MATURITY INDEX BY TIER
      • Market Leaders
      • Market Challengers
      • Market Emergents
    • TMI VERSUS GDP
    • MOBILE AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • FIXED VERSUS MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
  • Country overview
  • Covid-19 and its impact on the telecom sector
    • ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS AND RESPONSES
    • MOBILE DEVICES
    • SUBSCRIBERS
    • INFRASTRUCTURE
  • Telecommunications market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Table Change in consumer take-up of telecom services by type – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Fixed-line calls and access revenue by main operator– 2010 – 2020
      • Table Communications retail revenue by sector – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in telecoms revenue by service – 2013 – 2019
      • Table Change in the average retail household spend on telecoms services – 2013 – 2019
      • Table Change in fixed-line and mobile voice traffic (billion minutes) – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in average fixed and mobile call minutes per line – 2013 – 2019
      • Table Change in the proportion of calls made, fixed-line and mobile – 2010 – 2019
      • Table Change in telecom retail revenue by sector (£billion) – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in the number of telecom connections by type (million) – 2010 – 2020
  • Regulatory environment
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
      • Office of Communications (Ofcom)
    • FIXED-LINE DEVELOPMENTS
      • Telecom sector liberalisation
      • Interconnect
      • Access
        • Table BT wholesale lines (new format) – 2016 – 2020
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Carrier PreSelection (CPS)
      • Wholesale Line Rental (WLR)
    • MOBILE NETWORK DEVELOPMENTS
      • Spectrum regulations
      • Spectrum refarming
      • Spectrum sharing
      • 2.6GHz
      • 800MHz
      • 900MHz
      • 700MHz
      • 1800MHz
      • 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz
      • Revised licence conditions
      • Other spectrum auctions
      • Roaming
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
        • Table MTRs by operator (pence per minute) – 2015 – 2018
        • Table Mobile interconnection traffic – 2010– 2020
  • Mobile market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Table Growth in mobile voice traffic – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in mobile retail revenue by service – 2010 – 2020
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2025
      • Table Change in the number of mobile connections by type – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Decline in mobile ARPU by contract, prepaid (£per month)– 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in average household spend of fixed-voice and mobile services – 2012 – 2019
      • Table Change in the number of prepaid/ contract subscribers (million) – 2010 – 2020
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
      • 4G (LTE)
        • Table Growth in the number of LTE subscribers – 2013 – 2019
        • Table Growth in O2's LTE subscribers and penetration – 2014 – 2019
      • 3G
      • Other infrastructure developments
        • Table Growth in the number of M2M connections – 2010 – 2019
        • Table Growth in the number of O2's M2M accesses – 2014 – 2020
    • MOBILE VOICE
      • Table Development of outgoing mobile voice traffic (billion minutes)– 2010 – 2020
    • MOBILE DATA
      • Table Growth in average mobile data traffic per user– 2011 – 2019
      • Table Growth in contract/prepaid mobile data traffic – 2013 – 2020
      • SMS and MMS
        • Table Decline in the volume of SMS and MMS messages sent – 2010 – 2020
        • Table Change in average SMS/MMS traffic per month by contract type – 2010 - 2019
      • Mobile broadband
        • Table Change in the number of dedicated mobile broadband subscribers – 2008 – 2020
        • Table Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers – 2010 – 2025
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Hutchison 3
        • Table Growth in the number of H3's registered subscribers by sector – 2008 – 2020
        • Table Growth in the number of H3's active subscribers by sector – 2014 – 2020
        • Table Development of H3's financial data – 2008 – 2020
        • Table Decline in H3's annualised gross ARPU (£month) – 2009 – 2020
      • O2
        • Table Development of O2's financial data –2010 – 2020
        • Table Development of O2's quarterly financial data – 2013 – 2020
        • Table Change in O2's mobile ARPU – 2010 – 2020
        • Table O2 proportion of data to service revenue – 2010 – 2019
        • Table Growth in the number of O2's mobile subscribers by type – 2010 – 2020
      • Vodafone
        • Table Development of Vodafone's mobile ARPU (blended, contract, prepaid) – 2010 – 2020
        • Table Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid – 2010 – 2020
        • Table Vodafone (UK) financial data – 2015 – 2021
        • Table Vodafone customer churn – 2007 – 2020
        • Table Vodafone Group revenue by sector (€ billion) – 2015 – 2021
        • Table Vodafone UK service revenue (€ billion) – 2016 – 2021
        • Table Vodafone mobile customer retention cost – 2016 – 2021
        • Table Growth in Vodafone's mobile data traffic – 2013 – 2020
      • EE
        • Table Development of EE's mobile revenue (new format under BT) – 2016 – 2021
        • Table EE quarterly consumer mobile revenue (new format under BT) – 2016 – 2021
        • Table Decline in EE's ARPU – 2009 – 2020
      • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
        • Table Change in the number of Virgin Mobile's mobile subscribers – 2010 – 2020
        • Table Development of Virgin Mobile's revenue – 2010 – 2020
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Mobile applications
      • M-payment MNO collaboration
      • Contactless payments
      • m-ticketing
      • m-banking
      • m-health
  • Fixed-line broadband market
    • INTRODUCTION AND STATISTICAL OVERVIEW
      • Market analysis
        • Table Change in the number of fixed-line broadband connections by type – 2010 – 2020
        • Table Growth in the average headline broadband speed – 2010 – 2019
        • Table Change in the proportion of residential broadband connections by speed – 2013 – 2019
      • Broadband statistics
        • Table Change in market share of fixed-line broadband subscribers by provider – 2010 – 2019
        • Table Change in broadband penetration by technology – 2010 – 2019
        • Table Growth in the number of fixed-line broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2025
        • Table Growth in average consumer fixed-line broadband traffic – 2011 – 2019
      • Government support
        • Table Change in the number of superfast broadband subscribers and market share – 2010 – 2019
    • HYBRID FIBRE COAX (HFC) NETWORKS
      • Table Growth in the number of Virgin Media's cable broadband subscribers – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Development of Virgin Media's cable ARPU – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Development of Virgin Media's revenue – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in Virgin Media's cable revenue – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Growth in the number of cable broadband subscribers – 2010 – 2020
    • DIGITAL SUBSCRIBER LINE (DSL) NETWORKS
      • Table Decline in the number of DSL subscribers – 2010 – 2020
      • Table BT consumer and wholesale broadband revenue – 2010 – 2021
      • G.fast
        • Table Growth in the number of BT's G.fast connections – 2017 – 2020
    • FIBRE-TO-THE-PREMISES (FTTP) NETWORKS
      • Table Growth in the number of fibre broadband connections by type – 2013 – 2019
      • BT
        • Table Development in the number of Openreach's fibre broadband connections – 2016 – 2020
      • Virgin Media/Fujitsu
      • Other developments
        • Table Growth in the number of Vodafone's fixed broadband subscribers – 2011 – 2020
    • OTHER FIXED BROADBAND SERVICES
      • Broadband Powerline (BPL)
      • Fixed wireless (Wi-Fi and WiMAX)
  • Fixed network operators
    • Table Fixed-voice traffic volume by call type – 2010 – 2020
    • Table Fixed-voice revenue by call type (£billion) – 2010 – 2020
    • BRITISH TELECOM
      • Table Change in BT's share of residential call types by traffic volumes – 2010 – 2019
      • Table Development of BT's financial data – 2010 – 2021
      • Table BT retail fixed revenue, Consumer, Business divisions – 2012 – 2021
      • Table BT revenue, Consumer division (new style, £million) – 2012 – 2021
      • Table BT revenue by Global Services, Wholesale and Openreach divisions – 2010 – 2021
      • Openreach
      • Company restructure
    • KCOM
      • Table Development of KCom's revenue – 2010 – 2019
    • CABLE & WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS (C&WC)
    • VIRGIN MEDIA
      • Table Development of Virgin Media's revenue – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Virgin Media revenue by sector (£million) – 2010 – 2020
      • Table Change in Virgin Media's subscribers by sector (million) – 2010 – 2020
    • COLT TELECOM
    • DIXONS CARPHONE GROUP (CARPHONE WAREHOUSE)
    • TALKTALK GROUP
      • Table Development of TalkTalk Group's financial data – 2009 – 2021
    • SKY
  • Telecommunications infrastructure
    • OVERVIEW OF THE NATIONAL TELECOM NETWORK
      • Table Change in the number of fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2025
    • NEXT GENERATION NETWORKS
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Submarine cable networks
      • Satellite networks
    • CLOUD SERVICES
    • SMART INFRASTRUCTURE
  • Appendix – Historic data
    • Table Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Percentages of mobile and fixed phones in homes – 2000 – 2016
    • Table Historic - Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes – 2003 – 2010
    • Table Historic - KCom revenue – 2000 – 2010
    • Table Historic - Telecoms revenue by service – 2008 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Average household spend on telecoms services – 2005 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Fixed-voice traffic by type in minutes – 2002 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Virgin Media revenue – 2003 – 2010
    • Table Historic - Carphone Warehouse Europe revenue, profit – 2008 - 2014
    • Table Historic - TalkTalk subscribers – 2011 – 2015
    • Table Historic - Communications revenue by sector – 2003 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Household take-up of telecom services – 2003 – 2016
    • Table Historic - Communications wholesale and retail revenue – 2005 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Telecom connections: fixed, mobile, broadband – 2002 – 2009
    • Table Historic – BT's LLU, shared wholesale lines (old format) – 2004 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Lines with CPS – 2004 – 2018
    • Table Historic - WLR lines – 2004 – 2018
    • Table Historic - Average fixed-voice revenue per month by call type – 2011 – 2016
    • Table Historic - BT share of residential call types by traffic volumes – 2002 – 2009
    • Table Historic - BT Consumer lines and TV subscribers – 2011 – 2017
    • Table Historic - COLT financial data – 2006 – 2015
    • Table Historic - COLT financial data by business – 2013 – 2015
    • Table Historic - H3 annualised data ARPU – 2009 – 2012
    • Table Historic - Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate – 1995; 1997; 1999 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Mobile retail revenue by service – 2002 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Virgin Mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2014
    • Table Historic - Average 3G and 4G speeds (Mb/s) – 2014 – 2015
    • Table Historic - Broadband take-up by technology – 2007 – 2016
    • Table Historic - Average household spend of fixed-voice, mobile and internet services – 2008 – 2016
    • Table Historic - Prepaid and contract subscribers – 2002 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Mobile market share by operator – 2004 – 2016
    • Table Historic – EE's LTE subscribers – 2013 – 2015
    • Table Historic - SMS and MMS revenue – 2015 – 2017
    • Table Historic - EE subscriber data – 2009 – 2018
    • Table Historic - Percentage internet access by dial-up and broadband – 2000 – 2011
    • Table Historic - Internet users and penetration – 2000 – 2016
    • Table Historic - Fixed-line broadband retail revenue – 2001 - 2015
    • Table Historic - Fixed-line broadband subscribers and penetration – 2002 – 2009
    • Table Historic - DSL subscribers – 2000 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Market share of fixed-line broadband subscribers by provider – 2005 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Broadband penetration by technology – 2004 – 2009
    • Table Historic - BT retail and wholesale broadband subscribers – 2004 – 2018
    • Table Historic - Fixed-line broadband connections by type – 2002 – 2010
    • Table Historic - Devices used for internet access, market share – 2013 – 2017
    • Table Historic - Internet connectivity type, by household – 2003 – 2016
    • Table Historic - BT fibre broadband subscribers – 2014 – 2018
  • Glossary of abbreviations
  • Related reports

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