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

Synopsis

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. The merger of Orange and T-Mobile created EE as the largest operator in the country, and in January 2016 it was sold to BT to become 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, and in common with developments in many other European markets subscriber growth has dipped in recent quarters as consumers respond to economic pressures and more generous pricing offers among operators which has negated some of the justifications for multiple SIM card ownership.

Auctions for spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands have made more bandwidth available for mobile broadband services, supported by regulatory moves which allow the refarming of 2G spectrum for 3G and 4G use. Spectrum will also be released in the 700MHz band during 2019, which spectrum is also being allocated for 5G. 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

  • Ofcom completes 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction;
  • Vodafone aiming to close 3G infrastructure by 2020, EE by 2022;
  • EE achieves 2.8Gb/s in pre-5G trials, plans to launch services in 16 cities in 2019;
  • MNOs extend Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE services;
  • New rates for MNP imposed;
  • Government increases funding for 5G test-beds;
  • 4G auction in 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands delivers £2.34 billion;
  • Vodafone trials LTE-V2X technology;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market updates to June 2018, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q3 2018, 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.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Market analysis
  • 3. Mobile statistics
    • 3.1 Operator market shares
  • 4. Mobile infrastructure
    • 4.1 5G
      • 4.1.1 Government support
      • 4.1.2 Operators
    • 4.2 4G (LTE)
      • 4.2.1 O2
      • 4.2.2 EE
      • 4.2.3 Vodafone
      • 4.2.4 H3
    • 4.3 3G
      • 4.3.1 Network sharing
      • 4.3.2 H3
      • 4.3.3 O2
      • 4.3.4 Vodafone
      • 4.3.5 T-Mobile / Orange
      • 4.3.6 EE
    • 4.4 Other infrastructure developments
      • 4.4.1 M2M networks
      • 4.4.2 NB-IoT
  • 5. Mobile voice
  • 6. Mobile data
    • 6.1 SMS and MMS
    • 6.2 Mobile broadband
  • 7. Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • 8. Regulatory issues
    • 8.1 Spectrum regulations
    • 8.2 Spectrum refarming
    • 8.3 Spectrum sharing
    • 8.4 Spectrum 2.6GHz
    • 8.5 Spectrum 800MHz
    • 8.6 Spectrum 900MHz
    • 8.7 Spectrum 700MHz
    • 8.8 Spectrum 1800MHz
    • 8.9 Spectrum 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz
    • 8.10 Revised licence conditions
    • 8.11 Other spectrum auctions
    • 8.12 Roaming
    • 8.13 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
    • 8.14 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
  • 9. Major mobile operators
    • 9.1 Hutchison 3
    • 9.2 O2
      • 9.2.1 Proposed sale to BT
      • 9.2.2 Proposed sale to H3
    • 9.3 Vodafone
      • 9.3.1 Project Spring
      • 9.3.2 Sales and acquisitions
    • 9.4 EE
      • 9.4.1 Sale to BT
    • 9.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
      • 9.5.1 Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
  • 10. Mobile content and applications
    • 10.1 Mobile applications
    • 10.2 M-payment MNO collaboration
    • 10.3 Operator platforms
    • 10.4 Contactless payments
    • 10.5 m-ticketing
    • 10.6 m-banking
    • 10.7 m-health
  • 11. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes – 2003 - 2017
  • Table 2 – Mobile retail revenue by service – 2002 - 2018
  • 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 - 2018
  • Table 6 – Average household spend of fixed-voice, mobile and internet services – 2008 - 2016
  • Table 7 – Prepaid and contract subscribers – 2002 - 2018
  • Table 8 – Mobile market share by operator – 2004 - 2016
  • Table 9 – LTE subscribers – 2013 - 2018
  • Table 10 – Average 3G and 4G speeds (Mb/s) – 2014 - 2015
  • Table 11 – O2 LTE subscribers and penetration – 2014 - 2018
  • Table 12 – EE LTE subscribers – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 13 – M2M connections – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 14 – O2 M2M accesses – 2014 - 2018
  • Table 15 – Average mobile data traffic per user– 2011 - 2017
  • Table 16 – SMS and MMS messages sent – 2004 - 2018
  • Table 17 – Average SMS/MMS traffic per month by contract type – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 18 – SMS and MMS revenue – 2015 - 2017
  • Table 19 – Dedicated mobile broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2018
  • Table 20 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 21 – Broadband take-up by technology – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 22 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 23 – European roaming charges – 2007 – 2016
  • Table 24 – European data roaming charges – 2014 - 2017
  • Table 25 – MTRs by operator (pence per minute) – 2015 - 2018
  • Table 26 – Mobile interconnection traffic – 2007 - 2018
  • Table 27 – H3 registered subscribers by sector – 2008 - 2018
  • Table 28 – H3 active subscribers by sector – 2014 - 2018
  • Table 29 – H3 financial data – 2008 - 2018
  • Table 30 – H3 annualised gross ARPU by sector – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 31 – O2 financial data –2007 - 2018
  • Table 32 – O2 quarterly financial data –2013 - 2018
  • Table 33 – O2 ARPU – blended, contract, prepaid and data – 2006 - 2018
  • Table 34 – O2 proportion of data to service revenue – 2006 - 2018
  • Table 35 – O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract – 2005 - 2018
  • Table 36 – Vodafone end-year ARPU – blended, contract and prepaid – 2005 - 2018
  • Table 37 – Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 38 – Vodafone (UK) mobile financial data – 2008 - 2019
  • Table 39 – Vodafone customer churn – 2007 - 2018
  • Table 40 – Vodafone Group revenue by sector – 2007 - 2019
  • Table 41 – Vodafone UK mobile service revenue by sector – 2009 - 2019
  • Table 42 – Vodafone mobile customer retention cost – 2007 - 2019
  • Table 43 – Vodafone customer smartphone adoption – 2010 - 2016
  • Table 44 – Vodafone mobile data traffic – 2013 - 2018
  • Table 45 – EE quarterly revenue (old format) – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 46 – EE financial data (old format) – 2011 - 2015
  • Table 47 – EE mobile revenue (new format under BT) – 2017 - 2018
  • Table 48 – EE quarterly mobile revenue (new format under BT) – 2016 - 2018
  • Table 49 – EE ARPU (Q4) – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 50 – EE subscriber data – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 51 – Virgin Mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2018
  • Table 52 – Virgin Mobile revenue – 2007 - 2017
  • Chart 1 – Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes – 2003 - 2017
  • Chart 2 – Mobile retail revenue by service – 2002 – 2018
  • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate – 2003 - 2018
  • Chart 4 – Mobile ARPU by contract, prepaid – 2006 – 2018
  • Chart 5 – Prepaid and contract subscribers – 2002 - 2018
  • Chart 6 – H3 subscribers by sector – 2008 - 2018
  • Chart 7 – H3 financial data – 2008 – 2018
  • Chart 8 – H3 ARPU by sector – 2009 – 2018
  • Chart 9 – O2 financial data –2007 - 2018
  • Chart 10 – O2 annualised ARPU – blended, contract, prepaid and data – 2006 - 2018
  • Chart 11 – O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract – 2005 - 2018
  • Chart 12 – Vodafone ARPU – blended, contract and prepaid – 2005 - 2018
  • Chart 13 – Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid – 2001 - 2018
  • Chart 14 – Vodafone (UK) financial data – 2008 - 2019
  • Chart 15 – EE ARPU – 2009 - 2018
  • Chart 16 – EE subscriber data – 2009 - 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – 3G licence results – April 2000
  • Exhibit 2 – 3G licensee and infrastructure suppliers
  • Exhibit 3 – Spectrum available for mobile services
  • Exhibit 4 – Spectrum awards – 800MHz and 2.6GHz – 2013
  • Exhibit 5 – Spectrum awards – 2.3GHz, 3.4GHz – April 2018
  • Exhibit 6 – Spectrum auction results 10GHz – February 2008
  • Exhibit 7 – H3 spectrum concessions –2018

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Focus Report Profile

Technologies

Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)

Number of pages 61

Status Current

Last updated 5 Dec 2018
Update History

Analyst: Henry Lancaster

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