A report from Ofcom providing Telecommunications Market data tables is perhaps not the most exciting read, but it does provide a clear indicator of how quickly or not the broadband market is growing in the UK.
|Period||Total||BT Retail||Other DSL||Virgin Media||Other (inc LLU)||BT Retail share||Virgin Media share|
The table only goes up until the 3rd quarter of 2008, i.e. September, and we know that at the end of January 2009 there was some 5.6 million unbundled connections. This rise of almost half a million lines should take the UK well past the 17 million broadband connections mark, even if the majority of growth in unbundled connections was at the expense of Virgin Media and BT services.
The lack of network expansion for Virgin Media may explain why its market share has fallen by 2.1 percentage points since 2006, in the same period BT Retail has increased its share and this has been in the face of stiff competition offering free (or nearly free) broadband and products with speeds well in excess of what BT Retail has offered to date.
The number of exchange line numbers for the UK sits at some 33,485,000 down from a peak of 33,704,000 in Q4 of 2007. One interesting aspect of the basic telephone data in the report is that call volumes for both BT and Virgin Media are dropping as other operators gain traction. The number of residential exchange line numbers was 23,313,000 as of Q3 2008, down just over 200,000 since 2006.
As the UK moves forward, and early adopters of broadband look for the next big leap to step forward, the question is how can Ofcom ensure its previous market led approach will continue to thrive at a time when many firms are having trouble surviving let alone finding capital to push forward next generation broadband access.