UK overtakes major EU nations for superfast broadband

12 March 2014

The UK has the highest take-up and coverage of superfast broadband among leading European economies, new figures show.

Ofcom's European Broadband Scorecard, published today, shows that the UK leads the EU’s five biggest economies on most measures of coverage, take-up, usage and choice for both mobile and fixed broadband, and performs well on price.

The report finds that the availability of superfast broadband has increased in the UK from around 60% at the end of 2011 to 73%. This has taken the country from third to first for coverage among the 'EU5' (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).

Take-up of superfast broadband, which is capable of providing speeds equal to or greater than 30Mbit/s, had reached nine in every 100 people in the UK at the start of last year, the highest in the EU5 ahead of Spain (6 in 100) in second place.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: 2This is excellent progress for the UK, but there is more to be done. We want to see even wider availability of superfast broadband across the UK, so as many people as possible can enjoy faster speeds to access the internet.

"There is also more progress to be made to ensure consumers receive consistently high quality of service, including faster line repairs and installations for broadband and telephony."

Where the UK ranks

Among the EU5, using the most recent comparable data, the UK has:

  • highest broadband take-up (all types, by household), at 83%;
  • highest proportion of people to have bought goods online over a year (77%);
  • highest weekly usage of the internet (87%);
  • lowest proportion of people who have never used the internet (8%).

Ofcom has also analysed a range of broadband product 'baskets', by examining average and lowest prices available for different packages. The UK comes either first or second within the EU5 on all measures of average price, and either second or third on measures of the lowest available price.

Today’s European Broadband Scorecard is Ofcom's second report for Government on the coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice of fixed and mobile broadband services in the UK, relative to other European countries.



1. Deployment of superfast technologies has increased rapidly in the UK, with operators such as Virgin Media and BT rolling out cable and fibre networks to most of the population. BT’s network currently reaches around 18m households and is available for different providers to sell broadband services to consumers, ensuring competition in the market.

2. In December 2010, the Government published a report setting out its ambition that the UK should have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. In August 2012, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport set a specific target that the UK should have the fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015. The Government also runs a programme of publicly-funded superfast deployment in rural areas, known as Broadband Delivery UK.

3. The development of broadband networks is affected by factors such as geography, population size and density and legacy infrastructure, which differ significantly between EU Member States. For these reasons, Ofcom has compared the UK’s broadband network with those in other major European (EU5) economies.

4. As the data and methodologies must be comparable across member states, some of the figures in the Scorecard relate to the end of 2012, and may differ from those given in other Ofcom documents. As Ofcom has not identified appropriate datasets that would allow accurate, comparable estimates of national fixed-line download, fixed-line upload and mobile download speeds, measures of speed are not included in the Scorecard.

5. Ofcom is concerned about the time it can take for broadband and telephone installations and repairs to be completed by Openreach, the company which undertakes this work on behalf of providers. To address this issue, Ofcom has proposed new targets to keep Openreach’s performance at an acceptable standard in future, and will publish a final statement on this later in the year.