United Kingdom - Mobile Infrastructure, Broadband, Operators - Statistics and Analyses

Synopsis

The UK has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, both in terms of revenue and in the number of subscribers. It is served by several major providers having a significant international presence. Recent merger activity has seen dramatic consolidation in the market and has had knock-on effects for network infrastructure deals struck between operators in recent years. The merger of Orange and T-Mobile created EE as the largest operator, which in January 2016 was sold to BT, becoming a separate business unit within BT Group. The bid by Hutchison to acquire O2 was rejected by the European Commission in May 2016 on the grounds that the deal would have reduced the number of MNOs to three, and so impacted on market competition.

The market has room for a growing number of low-cost MVNOs providing effective price and service competition for subscribers. The market has also been characterised by developments in advanced data services delivered over upgraded networks, the bundling of mobile as a quad-play service, and regulatory controls on charges and fees. Mobile penetration is above the EU average, yet subscriber growth remains strong as consumers adopt additional SIM cards as well as business-oriented devices and smartphones on various platforms.

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, while operators continue to trial 5G technologies with a number of key vendor partners.

This report surveys the UK’s mobile market, providing an overview of mobile statistics, regulatory issues and technologies. It also profiles the major operators and MVNOs, and looks ahead to mobile market developments in coming years.

Key developments

  • Ofcom completes 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum auction;
  • Vodafone aiming to close 3G infrastructure by 2020;
  • Sky enters the mobile market via its MVNO Sky Mobile;
  • EE achieves 2.8Gb/s in pre-5G trials;
  • MNOs extend Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE services;
  • New rules for MNP proposed;
  • Government commits £150 million to its Mobile Infrastructure Project to improve rural mobile coverage;
  • 4G auction in 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands delivers £2.34 billion;
  • Vodafone trials LTE-V2X technology;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market updates to December 2017, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q1 2018, recent market developments.
  • Companies mentioned in this report:

H3, Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (BT/EE, incorporating the former T-Mobile UK and Orange UK), Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Market analysis
  • 3. Mobile statistics
    • 3.1 Operator market shares
  • 4. Mobile infrastructure
    • 4.1 Digital networks
      • 4.1.1 5G
      • 4.1.2 LTE
      • 4.1.3 3G
    • 4.2 IoT and M2M networks
  • 5. Mobile voice
  • 6. Mobile data
    • 6.1 SMS and MMS
    • 6.2 Mobile broadband
  • 7. Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • 8. Regulatory issues
    • 8.1 Spectrum regulations
    • 8.2 Spectrum refarming
    • 8.3 Spectrum sharing
    • 8.4 Spectrum 2.6GHz
    • 8.5 Spectrum 800MHz
    • 8.6 Spectrum 900MHz
    • 8.7 Spectrum 700MHz
    • 8.8 Spectrum 1800MHz
    • 8.9 Spectrum 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz
    • 8.10 Revised licence conditions
    • 8.11 Spectrum auctions
    • 8.12 Roaming
    • 8.13 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
    • 8.14 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
  • 9. Major mobile operators
    • 9.1 Hutchison 3
    • 9.2 O2
      • 9.2.1 Proposed sale to H3
    • 9.3 Vodafone
      • 9.3.1 Project Spring
      • 9.3.2 Sales and acquisitions
    • 9.4 EE
      • 9.4.1 Sale to BT
    • 9.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
      • 9.5.1 Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs)
  • 10. Mobile content and applications
    • 10.1.1 Mobile applications
    • 10.1.2 M-payment MNO collaboration
    • 10.1.3 Operator platforms
    • 10.1.4 Contactless payments
    • 10.1.5 m-ticketing
    • 10.1.6 m-banking
    • 10.1.7 m-health
    • 11. Related reports
    • Table 1 – Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes – 2003 - 2017
    • Table 2 – Mobile retail revenue by service – 2002 - 2017
    • Table 3 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate – 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2009
    • Table 4 – Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
    • Table 5 – Mobile subscribers (excluding M2M) – 2016 - 2017
    • Table 6 – Mobile ARPU by contract, prepaid – 2006 - 2017
    • Table 7 – Average household spend of fixed-voice, mobile and internet services – 2008 - 2016
    • Table 8 – Prepaid and contract subscribers – 2002 - 2017
    • Table 9 – Mobile market share by operator – 2004 - 2016
    • Table 10 – LTE subscribers – 2013 - 2018
    • Table 11 – Average 3G and 4G speeds (Mb/s) – 2014 - 2015
    • Table 12 – O2 LTE subscribers and penetration – 2014 - 2017
    • Table 13 – EE LTE subscribers – 2013 - 2015
    • Table 14 – M2M connections – 2010 - 2017
    • Table 15 – O2 M2M accesses – 2014 - 2018
    • Table 16 – Mobile data traffic – 2013 - 2015
    • Table 17 – Average mobile data traffic per user– 2011 - 2017
    • Table 18 – SMS and MMS messages sent – 2004 - 2018
    • Table 19 – Average SMS traffic per month by contract type – 2010 - 2015
    • Table 20 – SMS and MMS revenue – 2015 - 2017
    • Table 21 – Dedicated mobile broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2018
    • Table 22 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2017
    • Table 23 – Broadband take-up by technology – 2007 - 2016
    • Table 24 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
    • Table 25 – European roaming charges – 2007 – 2016
    • Table 26 – European data roaming charges – 2014 - 2017
    • Table 27 – MTRs by operator (pence per minute) – 2015 - 2017
    • Table 28 – 3 UK registered subscribers by sector – 2008 - 2017
    • Table 29 – 3 UK active subscribers by sector – 2014 - 2017
    • Table 30 – 3 UK financial data – 2008 - 2017
    • Table 31 – 3 UK annualised gross ARPU by sector – 2009 - 2017
    • Table 32 – O2 financial data –2007 - 2018
    • Table 33 – O2 quarterly financial data –2013 - 2018
    • Table 34 – O2 ARPU – blended, contract, prepaid and data – 2006 - 2017
    • Table 35 – O2 proportion of data to service revenue – 2006 - 2018
    • Table 36 – O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract – 2005 - 2018
    • Table 37 – Vodafone end-year ARPU – blended, contract and prepaid – 2005 - 2018
    • Table 38 – Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid – 2001 - 2018
    • Table 40 – Vodafone customer churn – 2007 - 2017
    • Table 41 – Vodafone Group revenue by sector – 2007 - 2018
    • Table 42 – Vodafone UK mobile service revenue by sector – 2009 - 2018
    • Table 43 – Vodafone mobile customer retention cost – 2007 - 2018
    • Table 44 – Vodafone customer smartphone adoption – 2010 - 2016
    • Table 45 – Vodafone mobile data traffic – 2013 - 2018
    • Table 46 – EE quarterly revenue (old format) – 2009 - 2016
    • Table 47 – EE financial data (old format) – 2011 - 2015
    • Table 48 – EE mobile revenue (new format under BT) – 2017 - 2018
    • Table 49 – EE quarterly mobile revenue (new format under BT) – 2017 - 2018
    • Table 50 – EE ARPU (Q4) – 2009 - 2018
    • Table 51 – EE subscriber data – 2009 - 2018
    • Table 52 – Virgin Mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2018
    • Table 53 – Virgin Mobile revenue – 2007 - 2017
    • Chart 1 – Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes – 2003 - 2017
    • Chart 2 – Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate – 2003 - 2018
    • Chart 3 – Prepaid and contract subscribers – 2002 - 2017
    • Chart 4 – 3 UK subscribers by sector – 2008 - 2017
    • Chart 5 – 3 UK ARPU by sector – 2009 – 2017
    • Chart 6 – O2 financial data –2007 - 2018
    • Chart 7 – O2 annualised ARPU – blended, contract, prepaid and data – 2006 - 2018
    • Chart 8 – O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract – 2005 - 2018
    • Chart 9 – Vodafone ARPU – blended, contract and prepaid – 2005 - 2018
    • Chart 10 – Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid – 2001 - 2018
    • Chart 12 – EE ARPU – 2009 - 2018
    • Chart 13 – EE subscriber data – 2009 - 2018
    • Exhibit 1 – 3G licence results – April 2000
    • Exhibit 2 – 3G licensee and infrastructure suppliers
    • Exhibit 3 – Spectrum available for mobile services
    • Exhibit 4 – Spectrum awards – 800MHz and 2.6GHz – 2013
    • Exhibit 5 – Spectrum awards – 2.3GHz, 3.4GHz – April 2018
    • Exhibit 6 – Spectrum auction results 10GHz – February 2008

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Licence Information

Focus Report Profile

Technologies

Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)

Number of pages 58

Status Current

Last updated 6 Jul 2018
Update History

Analyst: Henry Lancaster

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