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Despite the continuing controversy over the national superfast broadband roll-out, coverage, take-up and average speeds across the UK remain well ahead of most European countries, according to a report from telecoms advisory practice Analysys Mason.
An international benchmarking report produced by the analyst firm on behalf of BT has revealed that as well as outpacing most of its European peers, the UK also compares well with the hyper-advanced broadband markets of Japan and South Korea, and is by some margin the most competitive market of all the countries featured.
Analysys Mason said the UK would continue to outperform other key economies for at least the next five years.
“The debate continues to rage over how the UK fares when it comes to broadband speeds, coverage and pricing, and this report shows it is doing very well,” said Analysys Mason partner Matt Yardley.
“When it comes to superfast broadband coverage, the UK is around three years ahead of the western European average, and by 2020 we expect the UK will be ahead of the US and similar to Japan.”
Note that Analysys Mason, together with a number of other broadband authorities, is out of step with the British government in that it defines superfast as broadband capable of delivering speeds of more than 30Mbps.
For the purposes of the national roll-out, and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Westminster defines superfast as broadband capable of delivering speeds of 24Mbps and above.
Yardley said the earlier and more rapid roll-out of superfast connectivity has resulted in higher adoption in the UK than in other countries.
Analysys Mason’s data shows that more than 78% of premises in the UK could access superfast broadband at the end of 2014, compared with 77% in Germany and 34% in Italy. By 2018, it predicted, 95% of premises would be able to access superfast. This would keep the UK ahead of the big five Euro economies, but also suggests the government’s 2017 targets may be slightly optimistic.
Adoption of superfast broadband in the UK was similarly higher than anywhere else in the big five, standing at 28% of premises. Yardley predicted this would skyrocket in the next five years, and suggested that by 2020 78% of UK premises could have subscribed to superfast services.
The report also suggested the current model for providing broadband services over the Openreach network has served its purpose well, with the UK’s broadband market deemed to be the most competitive based on retail market shares, and second for retail broadband prices, supported by low wholesale prices.
Yardley concluded that the current approach to extending superfast access in the UK had actually cost less than state-supported projects in other countries, and was exploiting private sector investment to a greater degree when it came to rural coverage.