Data-use increase has caused broadband expenditure to fall, says regulator

The British telecommunications watchdog, Ofcom, published its 2019 Communications Market Report (CMR) in which it was revealed that the increase in data use amongst the UK population has caused the average spend on home telecommunication services to fall.

The report surveyed the use and impact of fixed-line broadband connections, phone and mobile, and television and radio services across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Most significantly, the CMR found that the overall average UK household expenditure on broadband, phone and mobile use (all grouped as simply ‘telecommunications services’) dropped from £91.27 per month in 2017, to £83.56 in 2018. In total, this was estimated to be just 3.3 per cent of total household spend on all products and services.

It was also demonstrated that the UK telecommunications industry experienced a decline in revenue, from £36.9 billion in 2017 to £33.84 billion in 2018.

Put down to the rise in popularity of faster and cheaper internet-based instant messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, it was recorded that there were 5 billion fewer SMS text messages in 2018 than in 2017, whilst the number of minutes of calls recorded from fixed line connections dropped by 17 per cent.

Ofcom has linked these results to the increasing consumption of data by UK users which rose to 2.9GB in 2018 - up from 1.9GB in 2017, and 1.3GB in 2016.

A summary of the findings from the CMR 2019 includes: “Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of mobile connections were 4G at the end of 2018, up from 66 per cent a year previously.

“Average fixed and mobile data consumption increased rapidly in 2018, with average data use per fixed broadband line increasing by 26 per cent to 240GB per month, and average monthly use per mobile data connection increasing by 25 per cent to 2.9GB.”