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UK communications industry up to £54.9bn in 2017

Social but not social

Ofcom has released its annual report outlining the state-of-play in the UK communications market revealing the appetite for the digital economy is not a myth drummed up in the press.

The Communications Market Report details a few trends which we knew were growing, but perhaps reality is a bit quicker than we appreciated. In terms of the top-line numbers, 88% of households now have an internet connection, which equates to 25.3 million fixed broadband connections, of which, 10.8 million would be deemed superfast connections. The average fixed connection speed was at 36.2 Mbps.

On the mobile side of things, 94% of adults now have a mobile, 76% with a smartphone, and 18% now only a mobile phone home. At the end of 2016, there were 92 million mobile subscriptions across the country, with 52.4 million of those 4G. Total revenue of the communications industry across 2016 was up to £54.9 billion, an increase of 0.4%.

Perhaps one of the more interesting trends is the video activities of consumers, which is switching more and more to the digital world. 54% of adults now like the freedom of being able to watch when and where they want on their tablet or smartphone, according to the research, with 67% stating they watch video-on-demand as a preference as a means to avoid adverts. 35% of the respondents to the research say they enjoy a bit of binge watching at least once a week.

The traditional TV is under threat, as younger generations move further and further away from the TV set. Older generations are still engaged, average viewing for over-64s increased slightly, though the research showed that 66% of teens use YouTube to watch TV programmes/films compared to 38% of all adults. It’s good news for the telcos, all of a sudden a data-centric strategy and focus on content becomes more justified, but traditional broadcasters will have to continue their evolution to remain profitable. That said, they seemed to be doing a good job in 2016 as revenues increased by 1% in real terms to £13.8bn in 2016.

The way in which we communicate is continue to evolve as well. For previous generations, not having a conversation would have been unthinkable, but in 2012, text become the most popular means to have a chat. Emojis are now one of the more popular ways to communicate emotion as images have become more powerful. Snapchat is now used by more than 158 million people worldwide every day and the rise of Instagram is gaining momentum.

It’s another evolution of the way in which we communicate, which needs to be addressed at a network level. It’s a small change, but images lead to video which will place a considerable strain on any network, let alone the UK’s which is still dragging its feet.

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