UK users download most mobile data

The latest International Communications Report from Ofcom shows unlimited data tariffs and large allowances are encouraging UK users to download more data on their mobiles than many other countries

UK users download the most data on their mobiles, according to a new report from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom.

The International Communications Report for 2011 compared 17 countries around the globe, but found the average 424MB download by UK mobile users per month was higher than any other, pushing Japan into second place with 392MB per month.

The number was significantly above the average between the 17 countries of 92MB, but Ofcom claimed the availability of unlimited data tariffs, or at least contracts with high data allowances, helped this figure rise, with the report stating UK data consumption had risen by 58% in 2011.

However, Japan still made the most revenue from mobile handset data, bringing in £20.58 per user each month. The UK figure was notably lower at £2.06, but this was still up by 18% in 2011. Ofcom said the reason for the lower amount was because data was often included in contract prices and additional data packages had “very low levels of take-up” in the UK.

Voice calls made from mobile phones outnumbered those made from fixed lines for the first time in 2011, with the UK showing a 52%/48% split. Only Germany and France made less than half their calls from a mobile phone.

However, the UK was also one of only two countries whose fixed lines increased in numbers – the other being Brazil. Ofcom explained this by saying the need to get a phone line for DSL fixed broadband services probably accounted for the small 0.2% growth in lines.

The report also looked at broadband, which brought in less revenue than mobile data services for the first time last year - £81bn compared to £82bn.

Fixed broadband take-up almost doubled to 42 connections for every 100 homes in the five years leading up to the 2011 report. In the UK, this was slightly lower at 32.6 connections per 100 homes, with 78% of them using DSL technology.

The majority of homes in the UK could access superfast broadband – speeds of 30Mbps or more as defined by Ofcom – if they chose, with 65% having the capability. But the report showed take-up was still very low, with only 5% of connections being superfast.

The UK only had 1% of connections less than 2Mbps, however, and had the highest proportion of connections between 8Mbps and up to 30Mbps than any of the other 16 countries – 67%.

The best performers were the Netherlands – 22% had superfast broadband – and Sweden – 21%. However, the USA performed the worst, with 58% of their broadband connections providing less than 2Mbps download speeds.   

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications