Ofcom Broadband Scorecard triggers Ed Vaizey MP heralding Britain’s place in the EU top five economies for broadband

Ofcom Broadband Scorecard triggers Ed Vaizey MP heralding Britain’s place in the EU top five economies for broadband

Ofcom released the first European Broadband Scorecard earlier today. The scorecard looks at the coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice of fixed and mobile broadband services in the UK, relative to other European countries.

The headline is that the UK performs well among major European economies, with the UK ranking between first and third in the EU5 on the measures of coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice.

The report finds that the UK has approximately the same fixed broadband take-up as France and Germany, and lies third among the EU5 for superfast broadband coverage, slightly behind Germany and Spain but ahead of Italy and France in what is a relatively new market. Ofcom finds that the UK has high mobile broadband take-up, and has very wide internet usage (highest in the EU5, with 81% of individuals online).

On competition, Ofcom finds that the UK benefits from highly competitive broadband markets, with the proportion of fixed lines operated by the incumbent (BT, with 31%) is the lowest in the EU5, while the market share of the largest mobile operator (EE, with 33%) is the joint lowest.

We particularly welcome the inclusion of usage in these metrics – something that BSG called for in the past – as a crucial dimension in understanding and harnessing the benefits of the rollout of superfast broadband in the UK.

Interestingly, speed has not been included in this stage due to a lack of comparable data – something that we flagged in our annual report (page 3). We know that speed is incredibly difficult to benchmark given the lack of robust data that allows one to compare like for like across Europe. Moreover comparisons can sometimes fail to offer real insight. As our CEO Pamela Learmonth stated earlier this year: “Speed data will continue to be of interest to consumers, but in benchmarking the success or otherwise of a national broadband strategy speed is primarily important in relation to what type of usage that speed supports, an issue that BSG believes deserves far greater scrutiny.”

Speaking at the 2013 Cable Congress today, Ed Vaizey MP heralded the UK’s performance, stating “in building a world class connected Britain and supporting our internet economy, we are doing well, but the Government wants to ensure we are doing even better. This Government is committed to delivering the broadband infrastructure and services we need to compete with the best in the world.”

It will be an essential tool in allowing Government to measure progress towards its ambition for the UK to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, and will be updated in Ofcom’s next International Communications Market Report.

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