Broadband News

Ofcom publishes 2013 broadband infrastructure report

The latest Infrastructure Report from Ofcom provides a useful roundup of data from across the broadband industry, both fixed and mobile. Some things like the fact that superfast broadband of one form or another is available to 73% of UK premises is not new, but what is more interesting is the differences in data use across different broadband products.

Product/Speed Average Data Usage
Fixed Broadband UK wide average 30 GB
ADSL2+ 23 GB
Superfast (between 30 and 50 Mbps) 41 GB
Superfast (50 Mbps and faster) 74 GB
Mobile data use per active SIM 0.34 GB
Mobile data use per household 1.01 GB

Oddly while you would expect data use to grow year on year, while the averages for fixed broadband are, there was a dip for superfast products, which the report attributes to previous figures being skewed more towards the early adopters for technology who are also more likely to be the largest data consumers. The gulf between mobile data consumption and fixed broadband shows that while we know some people have abandoned fixed line broadband services for 4G or the faster 3G variants, the number is not impacting the overall figures yet.

The traffic mixture as reported to Ofcom by providers shows that video is the driver behind data growth.

Traffic Type % Data Downloaded
Video including streaming applications 44%
Web browsing 27%
Peer to peer including bit torrent applications, file transfers and news groups 19%
Other 10%

The issue of the UK availability of first generation broadband (a vague phrase usually taken to mean you get any speed above 128 Kbps from ADSL) has been very much on the agenda since the highly visible roasting various people got by the Public Accounts Committee, so it was with a slight surprise we found the following in the Ofcom report.

"1.19 Where SFBB networks are not available, consumers rely on standard broadband, typically delivered by ADSL technology over conventional copper exchange lines. Standard broadband has been available to almost 100% of UK premises for a number of years, and offers a theoretical maximum speed of 24Mbit/s. However, the speed actually delivered varies depending on the length and quality of individual telephone lines and, as a result, some lines operate at much slower speeds. The Government has committed to ensuring that virtually all households benefit from a speed of at least 2Mbit/s by 2017 - the ‘Universal Service Commitment’ (USC)."

Extract from Ofcom 2013 Infrastructure Report

Now we knew and was not really surprised by the estimate by the National Audit Office that the 90% superfast 2015 target was going to be missed, though the NAO do estimate it will hit 88% by the end of 2015. What we have not seen anywhere is a clear statement by the Government that now expect the USC to only be met in 2017. We would have expected Labour to have made even more political points as their plan called for the 2 Mbps to be delivered by 2012.

The hardest part will be tracking whether these targets are actually delivered, as the majority of improvements to deliver superfast and USC level services are totally optional, and some people may not want to switch retail provider or take an upgrade due to contract changes, pricing or other factors. Ofcom has published a new set of line sync data for the UK so we will be analysing that in the coming weeks, as well as looking at the wealth of data we now generate from our speed test independently.


74GB? LOL for me it was more like 74+5526 :)

Anyone who has 80/20 and does 70GB a month should have stayed on ADSL!

  • pcoventry76
  • over 7 years ago

There must be an average of 3 SIMs per house. Interesting.

  • Kushan
  • over 7 years ago

It's great to see that we have joined the USA in that the majority of our traffic is streaming as opposed to P2P, newsgroups etc. Goes to show that making the right content available under the right conditions at the right prices will change people's usage habits.

Will be interesting to see if the average usage is a mean or a median.

The jump between ADSL2+ and >50Mb does match my own historical usage patterns. Higher quality streaming and very occasional larger downloads making up the difference.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 7 years ago

@pcoventry - I probably use less than that on average. But, for HD streaming, large downloads, etc it is nice to be able to do it when I want instantly. Plus the cost is only a little more and I can afford it.
Perhaps you should keep those comments to yourself - it is people like me that allow the companies to sell you such large amounts of data for a low cost. If everyone was using like you it would be more expensive.

  • ian72
  • over 7 years ago

Nah my comments are alright where they are thanks. I'm not the only one. I no longer do that infacrt I am no longer with that provider so you can keeo your knickers on.

its people like you who underuse their service but still get charged for it. They have more than enough money floating about to sell everyone such large amounts. so dont think your doing my any favours although i apprecite you think you are

  • pcoventry76
  • over 7 years ago

But I don't underuse my service. I haven't paid for a minimum amount of data transfer. I've paid for a fast connection for when I want to use it. I don't see there is a minimum transfer requirement to make it worth the money.

  • ian72
  • over 7 years ago


A lot of streaming sites aren't 'legit'.

But for those taking up 'legit' services, they are traitors to the internet, supporting internet censorship.

  • otester
  • over 7 years ago

Regarding mobile usage I hope the average stays low then the heavy users can continue to pillage in peace.

  • otester
  • over 7 years ago

And using your logic, presumably those using sites that share pirated content are champions of free speech?

Or are they just self-serving free loaders wanting to benefit from the fruits of the labours of others without paying, then putting up a smokescreen of "free speech" and "free market" nonsense to try to legitimise their selfish behaviour? Just sayin.

  • New_Londoner
  • over 7 years ago

I looked up the post code data and discovered that BT-Ofcom are using the same misleading definition of available for superfast broadband as they do for ADSL availability - that is includes lines on which is not available.

  • gerarda
  • over 7 years ago

Well this descended rapidly.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 7 years ago

I have said it before and I will say it to nobody really needs above a 30Mbps connection at this moment in time. It is enough to handle multiple HD streams. It is latency that is needed for better gaming, so a 1Mbit and 120Mbit can be identical in that respect. Even for P2P, does it really matter if something takes 15 minutes to download instead of 5? Web pages don't load noticeably faster on a 120 than they do on a 30 either.

Faster connections have been marketed well to make people think they want it, or want to be able to say to friends they have xxx speed.

  • Joppy
  • over 7 years ago


  • Somerset
  • over 7 years ago

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