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

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Last updated: 20 May 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 301

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in the UK’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the fixed-line, mobile and broadband sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure developments;
  • Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers, ARPU, MoU;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Broadband (FttP, DSL, cable, wireless);
  • Mobile subscribers and ARPU;
  • Broadband market forecasts;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Market liberalisation and industry issues;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, IPOs, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Mobile technologies (GSM; 3G, HSPA, LTE, 5G).

Researcher:- Henry Lancaster
Current publication date:- December 2019 (18th Edition)

Executive Summary

UK makes progress towards 15 million fibred premises

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 by 2033.

The fixed-line voice segment is being similarly repositioned, with PSTN services making way for IP-delivered content. BT’s independent wholesale unit Openreach plans to complete the switch to fibre by 2025.

The UK’s broadband sector remains dominated by copper. Virgin Media is aiming to provide a gigabit service across its network, mainly via DOCSIS3.1, and though the DSL network has been upgraded during the last few years Openreach in mid-2019 began scaling back its G-fast plans, aiming instead to focus on fibre as its moves to provide ultra-fast broadband services to some 15 million premises by 2025.

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 during 2019.

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, 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 in 2020 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 commits £500 million to help LTE network sharing plan;
  • Vodafone to switch off its 3G network by 2022;
  • Virgin Media switches MVNO deal to Vodafone;
  • Ofcom completes 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction;
  • O2 becomes the last of the MNOs to launch 5G services;
  • Government to invest £1 billion of fibre infrastructure and 5G technologies, launches £400 million investment aimed at connecting up to two million premises with a 1Gb/s FttP service by 2020;
  • Vodafone extends gigabit fibre service to an additional 500,000 premises with Openreach deal;
  • Openreach reviews G.fast plans as it focusses on FttP;
  • Government publishes its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review;
  • Hyperoptic to extend fibre broadband to two million people across 50 cities;
  • Report update includes the regular's market updates to June 2019, telcos' financial and operating data to Q3 2019, 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

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