Over half of UK adults have broadband at home

02 April 2007

02 April 2007

Ofcom today published its Digital Progress Report on the broadband market. The report looks at levels of take-up, usage and the types of services available in the broadband market.

In the seven years since its mass market introduction, broadband has become one of the fastest growing communications technologies. The report shows that over 50% of UK adults now have broadband at home - up from 39% a year ago and a seven-fold increase over the last four years. More than 13 million UK homes and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now connected to broadband, compared with 9.9 million a year earlier and 330,000 in 2001.

Many new internet users are choosing to go straight to broadband rather than first taking dial-up. According to Ofcom's research, 23% of people with no internet at home said they were likely to connect in the next year with 76% of those saying they would opt for broadband.

The report also shows that broadband prices are continuing to fall. Speeds of up to 2 Mbit/s were available for £15 a month in 2006, down from £50 in 2003. In 2006 a number of communications providers started offering a broadband service at no extra cost to consumers who took other services in a bundle.

Bundling is an important factor for consumers when choosing an internet service provider (ISP). At the end of 2006, over 40% of all adults with broadband at home took broadband alongside other communications services from the same provider. When asked what the most important factor influencing ISP choice was, the same proportion of broadband users cited the possibility of bundling with other services (27%) as did price (27%).

Other key findings were:

  • Broadband speeds continue to rise. The estimated average headline connection speed was 3.8 Mbit/s at the end of 2006, up from 1.6 Mbit/s at the end of 2005.
  • Despite these increases in speed almost half (48%) of residential consumers were unaware of their headline connection speed in February 2007.
  • At the end of 2006, one in ten UK adults said they were making calls over the internet, double the proportion that said they did this at the end of 2005. Of these, 14% said they did it daily and a further 30% did so several times per week.
  • Around half of broadband users have accessed online audio or video content at least once; 29% listen to or download online audio and 26% watch video clips online on a weekly basis.
  • Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) continues to grow. In February 2007 there were 1.7m residential and SME unbundled broadband lines, accounting for over 10% of all connections compared to 2% a year earlier.
  • Ofcom’s research showed that 21% of all UK adults owned a Wi-Fi enabled laptop in February 2007 and over one third of those had used public Wi-Fi hotspots to access the internet. In September 2006 there were around 12,000 public hotspots in the UK, a 32% increase on the previous year.
  • One in three UK adults said they owned an internet-enabled mobile phone in February 2007 and half of those had used their mobile to go online.
  • In 2006 residential and SME connections generated £1.84bn in revenue for broadband providers - a fifteen-fold increase in six years.

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said: "With over half of UK adults now using broadband at home, we have reached a very significant milestone in the development of broadband Britain. Consumers are responding positively to the competition and innovation that the UK market now offers."