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Ofcom publishes international communications roundup
Thursday 12 December 2013 11:14:54 by Andrew Ferguson

Ofcom has published its latest International Communications Market Report for 2013 and with hundreds of pages it makes for good bed time reading. The report covers the broadband, TV, radio and traditional telephone market place. Revelations that the UK consumer is paying less for their communications/TV basket than US counterparts is not a new revelation but one people easily forget. What may surprise many is that the UK is the cheapest of those countries where pricing can be compared, so ahead of Italy, France, Germany and Spain too.

The report due to the time it takes to source data from the many various International sources is based largely on 2012 data, and IDATE that has been operating since 1977 tracking telecoms and media markets is the source for much of the data in the report, and with the wide international reach of IDATE there is no real reason for them to make the UK figures look any better than any other country.

International levels of NGA Broadband Availability
Click for larger image

Availability of NGA broadband i.e. a VDSL/FTTH or cable (called FTTLA - Fibre to the last amplifier) in the reports reflects the 2012 position, and thus has moved on a far amount since then. In the figure it is worth pointing out that while some may think it means only 48% of households could get a NGA solution, the reality is that some areas have a choice of 2 solutions, some 1 solution and a small few may even have a choice of 3. This is why in the USA the totals add up to over 100%.

International comparisons of broadband speeds 2009 to 2012
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Of course the UK is ranking very low with respect to FTTH roll-outs, but the countries that fare well in this respect largely started and built their FTTH networks before the economic crisis and with lending for capital expenditure much harder to obtain now it is very likely that rather than Japan increasing its coverage of fast services the UK will creep towards that lofty goal. It is worth pointing out that even Japan which many people consider a broadband heaven has its FTTH/B products available to 87%, leaving a lot of people in the slow lane. The changes between 2009 and 2012 in terms of speed are interesting and while the UK is a long way behind the Netherlands, even in the Netherlands, plenty of people still have first generation type broadband speeds.

The wider International picture is important because the UK being better than other countries may help to attract International investment, and for the politicians and in particular the DCMS there is the goal of the UK having the best broadband among the major European countries i.e. Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK. Which many people say will never happen, but on the balance of the statistics the words of Jeremy Hunt may come true.

The UK broadband market and availability is not perfect, but is the constant negative social and press coverage showing a skewed view of the UK situation, with other countries viewed through rose-tinted spectacles?

Comments

Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
So in the UK only 1% of the population have speeds less than 2mbps! I suppose that goes with the 100% (22+63+15) that have speeds faster than 2mbps.

Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
Yes it seems to be the usual BT propaganda dressed up as fact by Ofcom
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
1% of 60,000,000 is over half a million people... which is a lot. No propaganda if you can understand the statistics.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@themanstan Ofcom's own report for 2013 put the under 2mb figure at 8%, and the independent point topic say its still 12%.
Perhaps you could engage your brain before throwing out insults?
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@gerarda
This report shows the percentage of connections by headline speed, while the earlier report (but with 2013 data) was based on actual sync speeds.

That's a hugely significant difference. Perhaps, while you are throwing out insults galore, you should remember to engage your own brain. Or a self-critical pause before typing.

Of course, because your agenda is to equate BT and Ofcom at all opportunities, and so denounce everything they might say, you'll undoubtedly use a reply to vilify both reports. Thankfully, not everyone shares your agenda, and can think for themselves.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Point Topic´s numbers (p14/15)are modelled ADSL speeds only... it doesn´t allow for any properties in the model to be on a superfast BB (VM, B4RN, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic, etc...). Which would be for example the village I live in. Plenty of people had less than 2Mbps, but we have FTTC so the majority of us have >24Mbps.

I wouldn't worry Gerada, most people struggle with statistics, most often the people trying to use them to generate reports.

http://point-topic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Point-Topic-UK-Broadband-Availability-June-2013-report-and-methodology.pdf
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@wwwombat - yes its based on headline speeds that bear no resemblance to reality so what is the point of Ofcom publishing this data, other than so try to give them impression that they are doing a better job than they are?
@themanstan - I struggle with statistics although I did manage to do study the topic at degree level. However I don't think Point Topics percentage is very far out. Ofcom say 8% despite ignoring all postcodes where they have no data which include those which have no accessible service. And whether its 12% or 8% its vastly higher than 1% as shown in the chart
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@wwwwombat I would be delighted if I could separate BT and Ofcom but I cannot find anything to suggest that Ofcom are not continuing to be an outlet for BT's PR department. If you have any evidence to the contrary please enlighten me
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Gerada

If you refer to p5, this is the relevant estimates for speed of services allwoing for all technologies. Which would give ~5% at 2Mb at worst, but this report is now old and it is concievable that all the higher speed rollouts from the likes of Gigaclear's Oxfordshire rollouts, Hyperoptic, OR FTTC, etc... have brought down to a far lower figure. It really depends on whether OFCOM are preloading their data with BDUK planned rollouts vs actual.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago

If Ofcom are pre loading data then the report is even more nonsensical.

Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
In order to ensure that the time frame for the BDUK roll out doesn't slip any more than it has already Ofcom need to be proactive. They should start to consider a scheme where they could fine BT for slow broadband speeds with the fines increasing over a period of time. BT need to have a financial reason to complete a 100% roll out to at least 8MB.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
And presumably OFCOM can fine both BDUK and LocalGov where tardiness is their fault?
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
@themanstan I was thinking about when each BDUK project was completed or more to the point when each one was supposed to be completed. Each council area would need to be assessed at that time without delay. My point is that there doesn't seem to be a plan B.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Plan B stopped when all the companies bidding for BDUK money, realised the onerous conditions.
So if you turn to BT now and say we´ll fine you for late delivery they can simply withdraw from the scheme... you´d be doubly stuffed, late and no-one to fulfill rollout. You can´t change contractual conditions like that...
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
Clearly it would not be possible to change the BDUK contracts. But OFCOM should consider what minimum broadband speed that BT should deliver when it publishes the next revision of its Universal Service Obligation. For postcode areas that fail to receive the minimum a fine would be in order. In much the same way as train companies are fined when their trains are late.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
USO by definition is not an enforceable system, a USC would be. However, there are substantial issues related to USC that are both desirable and undesirable for the customer.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Why only a USO on BT?

What about areas where others have had alternate networks rolled out?
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
The USO is part of the BDUK contracts - it remains to be seen whether BT can deliver on that
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
THERE IS NO USO IN THE BDUK CONTRACTS.

Yes I shouted, there is a 2 Mbps USC - Universal Service Commitment.
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
OFCOM seems so passive towards BT. What is the point of a regulator if it doesn't show its teeth from time to time.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
^ Maybe they don't see any issue so don't need to show its teeth
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Please explain what is the issue with the BDUK rollout that requires OFCOM intervention?
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
Looking at it from a local level here in West Sussex, our BDUK contact was signed last May and we still have no indication of any work to be undertaken. All we have to date is just some vague hint that survey results will be published at some time in the spring for the first part of the project and a hope that it may be completed by spring 2016. I would like to see OFCOM chasing up all concerned.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/living/broadband/what%E2%80%99s_better_connected_all/news.aspx

from my perspective no works as yet is probably good. Spending time to get plan properly is not really a bad situation. Even "simple" engineering works need plenty of planning and infrastructure works are even more involving.
A lot of the onus at the moment is on LocalGov as they are responsible for designating and prioritising locations for service. With feedback from initial survey work actively adapting the plan.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
I think this is a key part which people are overlooking, the plan is actively adaptive from survey feedback. As engineering surveys may come back saying substantial duct collapse along a particular route might mean not economical to route fibre, re-routing requires more surveying, etc...
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
We lost our West Chiltington exchange about 20 years ago, BT sold the land for building development, our exchange is now located inside the Storrington exchange. It seems that most lines were exchange only lines before the change then BT installed cabinets mainly clustered close to the old exchange. I am about 1.5km from my cabinet. Luckily fibre runs within meters of the cluster of cabinets.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@themanstan "A lot of the onus at the moment is on LocalGov as they are responsible for designating and prioritising locations for service." I can imagine what Bt's answer would be if they said we want the notspots done first.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
They could choose to if they wanted and blow the money on potentially very few people...
What would the NAO and PAC say about that?
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
It´s something that is called risk management.
It´s fiduciary duty for those who spend public money, sadly not often applied.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
I suppose you could say the same in terms of spending money on any disadvantaged minority part of society.

Also if the government wants the savings that arise from digital by default they need to ensure digital for all - not just give a better experience to those already reasonably well served

Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Are you insisting on a serve the disadvantaged first basis?

The reality is not savings but a boost to economy, which will have the main gains by serving the majority first and not the minority. Which is the whole point of BDUK.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
No its not the whole point of BDUK - though the agenda seems to have been skewed to that - the other objective was to get broadband for all.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
BDUK's purpose is to serve a majority of those not in the commercial rollouts of VM and BT. i.e. 66% of the remaining 33% not served.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
Objective:
The primary objectives of the scheme are (1) to provide access to NGAinfrastructure capable of delivering superfast broadband speeds to as many homes and businesses as possible in each local authority area in the UK; and (2) to ensure thateveryone in the remaining areas in the UK has access to minimum broadband speeds of atleast 2 Mbps (the universal service commitment).
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