Communications services are critical to the UK’s economic success and social cohesion. They are used by the average UK adult for over half of their waking hours. The coverage, capacity and reliability of the digital infrastructure over which these services are provided are of fundamental importance to both consumers and businesses.
The majority of the investment to build and maintain communications networks is delivered by commercial providers, competing to deliver services to consumers and businesses.
Ofcom is responsible for the regulatory framework that ensures effective competition. It is our role to help create the conditions that will foster efficient investment and innovation, leading to a wide range of high quality communications services throughout the UK.
However, the economics of networks means there are parts of the UK that will not be fully served by the market. There are also some services which may not be provided to all by the market. In these circumstances, Ofcom or the Government may intervene to further consumer and citizen interests.
Who takes action, and how, depends on the levers available. For example, Ofcom has moved to improve mobile coverage by attaching coverage obligations to mobile licences. The Government has intervened to improve the coverage of mobile networks and superfast broadband through public funding to subsidise wider roll-out.
The challenge when designing any intervention is to ensure that it is precisely targeted, so that it is an efficient means of achieving the policy goal, and at the same time minimises the risk of knock-on effects that could reduce competition or private sector investment. Such targeting requires an accurate and up to date understanding of the state of the UK’s infrastructure.
This report is designed to provide this information. It follows the inaugural report in 2011 and a series of smaller annual updates. It considers how networks are adapting to increases in demand and highlights challenges for the future.
Infrastructure Report 2014 (PDF, 3.0 MB)