Broadband services in the UK are among the best in Europe, with enthusiastic consumers benefiting from some of the lowest prices, according to an Ofcom report.
The regulator’s “broadband scorecard” shows the UK generally performs well among the five major European economies, ranking between third and first on all measures of coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice.
The scorecard was proposed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to allow the Government to measure progress towards its ambition that the UK should have the best superfast broadband network of any major European country by 2015.
In comparison with others in the “EU5” - France, Germany, Italy and Spain - the UK has approximately the same fixed broadband take-up as France and Germany at 32 connections per 100 people, considerably higher than in Italy and Spain.
The UK is third for superfast broadband coverage, slightly behind Germany and Spain but ahead of Italy and France, although Ofcom pointed out that the market remained “very new”.
In June 2012 superfast coverage had reached 65% of UK premises, the report said.
The UK has the second highest mobile broadband take-up with 64 connections per 100 people, ranked narrowly behind Spain, and the highest internet usage with 81% of individuals online.
Consumers also benefit from highly competitive broadband markets, with the proportion of fixed lines operated by the incumbent BT at 31% the lowest in the EU5, while the market share of the largest mobile operator EE, at 33%, is the joint lowest.
Ofcom found the UK has some of the lowest fixed and mobile broadband prices, leading the EU5 in eight out of 12 measures.
USwitch.com spokeswoman Marie-Louise Abretti said: “It’s official - UK broadband is cheap. But to reap the financial benefits of what is a truly competitive market, Brits need to realise that loyalty doesn’t always pay. Switching deals or provider could save consumers £120 a year.
“And when it comes to superfast broadband, it’s clear we’ve still got some catching up to do with our European neighbours. Although 65% of UK households can get superfast speeds, many don’t realise they can, while others are worried about the strain it could put on their wallets.
“While it’s great that UK broadband is topping the class in some subjects, frustrated consumers will hope that it does better in speed. Worryingly, the Government’s emphasis on rolling out superfast broadband has overshadowed the fact that there are still coverage blackspots across Britain, where speeds are patchy or excruciatingly sluggish.”