UK superfast broadband take-up lags

Steve Dinneen
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THE UK has the worst take-up of superfast broadband of any major developed nation, new research by the communications watchdog has revealed.

Just 0.2 per cent of people in the UK have access to broadband speeds of 30Mbits a second or higher. This compares to 34.4 per cent of people in Japan, 12 per cent in Sweden and 7.1 per cent in the US.

Ofcom says it expects this to increase as BT rolls out its Infinity broadband package and Virgin continues to expand its cable offering. With ambitious rollout plans that include connecting rural areas to superfast networks, Ofcom estimates the UK will have the highest proliferation of speeds over 30Mbits a second in Europe by 2015.

The UK also lags behind in super-fast mobile networks, with a maximum possible download speed of just 7.2Mbits a second – level with France but far behind Sweden with 100Mbits a second. Japan, Australia and Poland all have theoretical download speeds of 42Mbits a second.

Ofcom also expects this to rise significantly over the next two years, with two major spectrum auctions coming up which will relieve pressure on mobile data networks. The most significant will be the auction of the 800MHz spectrum which is currently used for analogue TV but will be available after the digital switchover is complete.

The study of communications trends also shows that the UK is cheaper than any major European nation or the US for mobile, broadband and TV.

The UK leads Europe for internet purchases, with the average online spend per person reaching £1,031 – almost twice the next highest nations, France with £595 and Germany with £588.

Ofcom believes this is down to the higher proliferation of credit cards in the UK, the early growth of Amazon here and the tradition of catalogue purchases. The share of online advertising is also higher in the UK than in any of the comparator countries, at 27 per cent. The US has 17 per cent and Japan has 15 per cent.

IPTV has been slow to take off in the UK but this is expected to grow when BBC-backed venture YouView launches next year.