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. 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.
Government commits £500 million to help LTE network sharing plan;
Ofcom completes 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction;
Vodafone aiming to close 3G infrastructure by 2020, EE by 2022;
O2 becomes the last of the MNOs to launch 5G services;
New rates for MNP imposed;
Report update includes the regulator's market updates to June 2018, telcos' financial and operating data to Q2 2019, 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
Operator market shares
T-Mobile / Orange
Other infrastructure developments
SMS and MMS
Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
Spectrum 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz
Revised licence conditions
Other spectrum auctions
Multi-spectrum auction – 2020
Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
Major mobile operators
Proposed sale to BT
Proposed sale to H3
Sales and acquisitions
Sale to BT
Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
Mobile content and applications
M-payment MNO collaboration
List of Tables
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
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