The UK broadband market may well have been slow to start but over the last few months we have seen a number of developments which should see the UK continue to move up the worldwide broadband league table and ultimately add further strength to the UK economy in the medium to longer term. So what can we expect from the UK broadband sector in the future?
The UK broadband sector
The UK authorities and UK Internet companies may well have been slower than most to begin investment into the marketplace, but there is no doubt that over the last few months we have seen signs of improvement and robust plans for the future. The UK government recently issued the “Digital Britain” report which has mapped out the future of the UK broadband sector in the short, medium and longer term and while some of the points are controversial, there is no doubt there is more focus for the UK broadband sector than ever before.
UK broadband prices
The UK broadband sector is one of the most competitive in the world with a massive amount of niche and mass-market IPSs which include the likes of BT, Virgin, BSkyB as well as Orange, Vodafone and other well-known players in the UK telecoms and UK Internet market. Over the last decade competition has increased dramatically as companies look to sign-up of as many customers as possible and then work on retaining their business and their loyalty in the medium to longer term. While some companies have been more successful at this particular strategy than others, there is no doubt that compared to the rest of the world, UK broadband contract prices are significantly lower than the vast majority of broadband sectors around the world.
UK broadband prices in the future
The ongoing development of a nationwide fibre-optic network in the UK, which will be installed by British Telecom, will require tens of billions of pounds of investment over the next 10 years although it will certainly be worthwhile as it will ultimately touch the vast majority of the UK population and bring to them, and their businesses, superfast broadband connectivity. However, as detailed in the government’s Digital Britain report there will be a cost for this particular development and talk of a broadband tax and telephone tax has been doing the rounds for some time.
We will ultimately see basic broadband contract prices begin to rise in the short, medium and longer term because there is no way that the sector can invest the money required and not at least expect consumers to contribute part of the investment needed.
Broadband coverage in the UK
As we touched on above, the UK broadband sector is one of the most competitive in the world and despite the fact that various rural areas in the UK may well still be “out of the loop”, Internet coverage across the UK is in general far better than the vast majority of developed countries. Fixed line broadband is by far and away the more popular of the particular services available in the UK although mobile broadband is becoming more and more popular, even if there is still significant investment required in this particular area.
As you would expect, if you live in the larger cities and larger towns of the UK you will likely have access to more ISPs (Internet service providers) than if you are in some of the less populated areas of the country. However, this is something that the UK government is looking into and we can expect further developments in these particular rural areas in the medium to longer term.
Working from home in the UK
More and more expats looking to settle in the UK are working for companies which allow many of them to actually work from home via a direct Internet link to their office. As a consequence, when you compare the UK broadband sector to the likes of Spain, France and other well-known European countries it is no surprise to see an increase in those people working “away from the office”. There are various hotspots around the UK, and these numbers are growing, mobile broadband is becoming more prominent and ultimately there are very few places, aside from some areas of the countryside, where you will not be able to pick up an Internet broadband signal very easily.
There have been significant improvements in the reliability and speed of UK broadband services available over the last few years, allowing many companies to reduce their office expenses, which have improved profitability and in many cases customer service levels.
The future shape of the UK broadband sector
While we mentioned the likes of BT, Virgin and BSkyB to name but a few, there are literally hundreds of smaller players in the UK, many looking towards niche areas and others looking towards the mass market, that may well struggle in the medium term. As a consequence of increased competition in the sector and the need to invest substantial capital in the short to medium term it is likely that the UK broadband sector we know today will be very different in 10 years time.
Many people expect the larger players to grab more of the UK broadband pie and many of the smaller operators will either be forced to merge or else potentially go out of business. While this would reduce competition initially, there will still be enough major broadband providers to ensure that prices do not rise too high and consumers are not taken “for granted”.
While many people complain about the UK Internet sector there is no doubt that the introduction of broadband over the last few years has changed the landscape completely. The UK now has one of the most competitive Internet broadband sectors in the world attracting the attention of major players from all areas of the globe as well as a massive number of niche Internet service providers.
Even though competition may well be reduced in the short to medium term because of the need to invest in the national fibre-optic network and other new technologies, there are more than enough major players to ensure that prices do not “runaway”.
If you are looking to move to the UK with the potential to work from home via an Internet link then you should have no problems in the vast majority of areas of the country where broadband connectivity is available from a number of ISPs.