Digital uptake in the UK

For the 6th year in a row Ofcom has published comparative international data on the communications sector.  They state that the “aim of the report is to benchmark the UK communications sector against a range of comparator countries in order to assess how the UK is performing in an international context”. So how are we doing?

There is strong evidence that when it comes to all things digital, we are leading the way internationally.

  • People in the UK spend an average of 746 minutes a week online, longer than any of the leading economies except the USA
  • Digital TV penetration is higher than anywhere else in Europe with 97% of households receiving more than just the five basic channels
  • 27% of people watch TV online every week, compared to only 23% in the USA
  • Smartphone penetration has reached 46%, up from 24% last year and higher than any other European country (and the USA)
  • The UK spends more time on online retail sites (average of 84 mins a month) and are more likely to buy (79% have ordered goods online, more  than any of the other 12 countries questioned)
  • The Daily Mail and the Guardian websites are the most popular newspaper websites in Europe
  • In the UK, the US and France, more than one in eight Internet users use a games console to access the Internet, and tablet computers are used by between 6% and 9% of Internet users

However, the situation is not all rosy. Despite strong take up of current technologies by British consumers, new technologies are stumbling in the UK compared to other countries.

  • Next-generation mobile services, which will make mobile surfing much faster, are struggling as mobile operators’ rows mean the auction of the airways to facilitate such services is unlikely to happen until the second half of 2012, while some other European countries have already held their 4G spectrum auctions.
  • Alongside this, Superfast services (above 24Mbps per second) are lagging behind in Europe with only 4% of UK households using such services (the highest in Europe), compared to 40% in Japan and 10% in the USA.

Overall, the report suggests that the UK public is increasingly moving towards digital lives – something advertisers need to be, and are, aware of – but the UK is at risk of falling behind international competitors unless we ensure that the new Superfast technologies are promoted and invested in now.

The report can be found at: