With 8.1 million connections in the UK, broadband is now a mainstream consumer product, currently used in 30% of all UK homes and businesses, says telecoms regulator Ofcom.
Ofcom’s annual Communications Market report reveals that the number of homes with broadband access to the internet has overtaken the number of dial-up connections.
The report says the number of new broadband connections per week has increased almost 15-fold in three years, from 5,500 a week in 2001 to 73,800 a week in 2004.
As a result of the rapid acceleration in take-up, there are now 8.1 million broadband connections as of June 2005 – more than double the number of connections at the end of 2003.
Ofcom says that by the end of this year, more than 99% of UK homes will be connected to a broadband-enabled exchange, allowing even more homes to sign up.
Broadband connection speeds are also increasing.
At the end of 2002, a 512Kbps connection typically cost £27 a month. As a result of competition, a 1Mbps connection now costs around £20 a month. A 1Mbps BT Broadband Basic package, for instance, costs £18 a month.
The mobile telecoms industry has also overtaken the fixed-line market in terms of revenue, says the report.
Between 2000 and 2004, the total number of mobile call minutes made in the UK almost doubled (from 34 billion to 62 billion). During the same period, the total number of minutes spent making calls over traditional fixed-line networks fell by 6% (from 174 billion minutes to 164 billion).
As a result, between 2003 and 2004, mobile telecoms revenues increased by 16% to £12.3bn. Revenues from traditional fixed-line voice services fell by 6.2% to £10.5bn from £11.2bn in 2003.
Ofcom chief executive Stephen Carter said, “For consumers and businesses these services are becoming cheaper, faster, more capable and even more important.”
In 2004, total revenues in the UK communications market, including digital television, were £55.9bn, accounting for 4.1% of UK GDP. The majority of this was derived from telecommunications.