United Kingdom’s network operators anticipated 5G spectrum release in 2018 The UK’s telecom market is one of the largest in Europe and has long been characterised by fierce competition in the mobile and broadband sectors.
As a consequence, mobile and broadband penetration is high, supported by relatively low consumer prices and by network capabilities which have been greatly expanded following recent investments by the principal telcos including British Telecom and Virgin Media.
In the mobile sector the main operators including O2, Vodafone and BT’s newly acquired unit EE, have comprehensive LTE networks in place and are engaged in trialling 5G technologies with a view to commercial launches by 2020. The market has room for a growing number of low-cost MVNOs providing effective price and service competition for subscribers. Anticipated auctions for spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands will see more bandwidth made available for mobile broadband services, supported by regulatory moves which allow the refarming of 2G spectrum for 3G and 4G use. This spectrum is also being allocated for 5G.
The UK’s broadband market enjoys excellent cross-platform competition. DSL services are almost universally available, while British Telecom has also introduced G.fast as part of its multi-technology mix to provide ultra-fast broadband services to some ten million premises by 2020. The main cable operator Virgin Media, owned by Liberty Global, is increasing its footprint to cover about two-thirds of premises by 2019. Virgin Media has also entered the fibre market, aiming to provide FttP to about one million customers while most of the remainder will be serviced with DOCSIS3.1. Vodafone is also partnering with CityFibre to deliver an extensive 1Gb/s service to about five million premises by 2025.
For its part, the government has committed to invest over £1 billion in broadband infrastructure through new investment funds, including £400 million in rolling out FttP services.
This report analyses the key aspects of the UK’s telecom market, presenting statistics on the fixed network services sector and an overview of the key regulatory issues including the status of interconnection, local loop unbundling, and carrier preselection. The report reviews the major fixed network telcos, examines the status of fixed-line voice services following the deregulation of the retail call market sector, and assesses the success and market impact of BT Openreach.
In addition the report covers the overall broadband market, assessing the deployment of new technologies and commercial initiatives. The report also surveys the mobile market, providing an overview of mobile statistics, regulatory issues and technologies. It profiles the major operators and MVNOs, and looks ahead to mobile market developments in coming years.
Key developments: - BT and Huawei trial 3Tb/s channel over existing fibre; - BT opens dark fibre to competitors; - Ofcom develops plan for Openreach to be given greater independence within BT Group; - Progress made in 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction for 5G use; - Vodafone aiming to close 3G infrastructure by 2020; - Sky expands presence in the mobile market; - EE achieves 2.8Gb/s in pre-5G trials; - New rules for MNP proposed; - Ofcom identifies four frequency bands for 5G use, plans 5G licensing in 2018; - Government commits £400 million investment to connect up to two million premises with a 1Gb/s FttP service by 2020; - Government claiming 95% of premises can receive superfast broadband; - USO to guarantee minimum 10Mb/s service by 2020; - Openreach commercialises Dark Fibre Access product; - CityFibre partners with Vodafone to extend fibre;
Report update includes telcos’ operating and financial data to Q3 2017, regulator’s market data to June 2017, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report: British Telecom, H3, Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (EE), Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media, KCom, Orange, Cable & Wireless, COLT Telecom, Dixons Carphone Group, Sky.
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