UK regulator, Ofcom, has recently released the 2012 update of the International Communications Market Report, which compares the availability, take-up and use of services in the UK and a number of comparator countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA).

As in previous years, the report covers a number of areas, including:

  • an analysis of the UK market in context
  • comparative international pricing, comparing the typical prices people for a range of different 'baskets' of communications services
  • a review of both the television and audio visual market and the radio and audio market
  • an assessment of internet use, in terms of platforms and devices, as well as content and consumption
  • comparative international data on the communications sector, comparing the UK to a range of comparator countries in order to assess how the UK is performing in an international context.

The comparative international pricing element of the report, which is based on data and systems supplied by the Teligen division of Strategy Analytics, compares five 'baskets' of services - fixed voice, mobile voice, fixed broadband, mobile broadband and pay TV - representative of the communications use of five typical households. The analysis shows that the UK remains very price competitive, offering the lowest price for all five baskets when a weighted average of single service pricing was taken into account and for four of the five baskets when looking at 'best-offer' or lowest possible pricing.

The low mobile prices in the UK are a key factor in the UK positioning (although, fixed voice and fixed and mobile broadband prices in the UK are also comparatively low), however, the study found evidence that UK communications prices were increasing in nominal terms, and that this was mainly down to increasing mobile prices. In the year to July 2012, the weighted average cost of more than half of mobile connections in the UK increased by between 5% and 31% (in nominal terms).

HD premium pay-TV services were the main area where the UK did not perform well - partly due to the fact that Sky bundles a large number of channels in its premium pay-TV package, as well as charging its satellite TV customers an additional £10 a month to let them access premium channels in HD.

In the analysis the results for France were also favourable, with France having the lowest 'best-offer' including multi-play price for the 'connected family' household[1]. Notably, for this household, France was significantly cheaper than in the UK as a result of the availability of a low-cost quad-play bundle of fixed voice, fixed broadband, mobile and pay-TV services. France also had the second lowest 'weighted average' prices for all five households.

Notably, consumers in most of the six countries analysed were able to make cost saving of between 5% to 40% by buying bundled packages rather than purchasing services individually.

The full study results, along with detailed information on the methodology used, are available for download on Ofcom's website.


[1] A connected family is defined as a family of four with generally high use of several communications technologies. A definition of a connected family can be found in the main report from Ofcom.