Availability of superfast broadband connections and 4G services has increased rapidly this year, according to Ofcom’s Communications Market 2014 report.
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The report revealed that the number of superfast broadband connections over next-generation access (NGA) networks grew by 58% to 6.1 million premises during the first quarter of 2014, and the proportion of connections classed as superfast grew by 9.2 percentage points to 26.7% over the same period.
Ofcom’s analysts found the rise in uptake was down to user migration, as consumers sought to support the growing number of internet-enabled devices, and the diversifying number of services – such as TV streaming and VoIP – that rely on fast internet access.
The government’s BDUK programme reached 509,000 rural premises during the first quarter, up from 274,000 in the last quarter of 2013, with a cumulative £58.6m handed to local authorities, an average expenditure of £115 per premises passed.
During Q1 2014, Virgin Media remained the single largest operator in terms of superfast subscribers, holding 56% of the market compared with BT Retail's 35%. Other providers accounted for just 10% of the superfast market.
BT’s share was up 2% compared with Q4 2013, and other providers grew by 1%, both at the expense of Virgin Media.
Take-up of 4G also continued to grow, with data provided to Ofcom by the four national operators showing that 73% of the UK’s population can now receive outdoor 4G coverage on at least one network.
Ofcom estimated there are now more than six million 4G-enabled devices in use in the UK, but this equates to only 8% of active subscriptions.
The theory that 4G users tend to use more data than 3G was borne out to some extent, with 59% of 4G users claiming they streamed video content over 4G, compared with 41% of 3G users.