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Ofcom publishes Communications Market Report 2016
Thursday 04 August 2016 09:59:24 by Andrew Ferguson

The size and complexity of the remit from Ofcom is apparent when you see that a 260 page report is needed to carry the Communications Market Report 2016 and hopefully no-one will harm any trees by printing out this weighty tome.

An interesting snippet from the summary is that while broadcast TV generated revenues of £13.6 billion (including £6.2bn from pay TV) online revenue is growing rapidly up 23% in the last year to £976m and 60% of adults made use of a VoD service in 2015.

For those hoping the Ofcom report would provide an official insight into the coverage of superfast broadband their figures are stuck in the May 2015 era and historically only go back to May 2014, given Ofcom has previously talked about data collection at the premise level rather than postcode the presumption is that the extra work involved in geo-plotting and collecting data for 29 million premises rather than 1.7 million postcodes when chunks of the underlying data are changing weekly is a lot of work. For those wanting data that goes back to 2010 then we can of course help out with our own speed and coverage analysis that has data for most areas going back to 2010. We did explore working to the premises level ourselves, but after some limited testing we found that the overall result in some test areas made little difference to the overall statistics and as our goal was to ensure that BT and others are not telling lies about coverage levels we opted for the lower cost path. Even working to the postcode level involves a significant number of time each week to keep up with the changes.

We reported that we were seeing around 36% to 40% of our speed test results at superfast speeds last week and the Ofcom report states that with the take-up levels when the data was collected that 37% of fixed broadband connections were providing actual speeds of 30 Mbps or faster. This suggests while some worry our speed test population may just be speed obsessed people with the range of partner sites now using the test we have a fairly representative sample even when dealing with just monthly data.

Ofcom has now officially stated what many people were seeing and that is that introductory offers or full contract length offers have increased on broadband bundles, we believe this is partly a reaction to the new migration rules brought in by Ofcom and complaints about short term offers. The benefit now is that those willing to switch provider every 12 or 18 months can stay on special offers and receive an annual voucher bonus if they time the switch correctly - though there is trend for activation fees and increased delivery charges that does offset some of the voucher benefits. We are heading towards the time where like Ofgem we might see Ofcom intervene to assist those who don't chase the best deal and are paying well over the odds.

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