UK leads Germany and France on broadband usage

Broadband speed dial

The UK has the highest internet usage among its largest European neighbours, according to a new Ofcom report.

The telecoms watchdog said that the UK has the highest rate of internet usage, at around 81 per cent, compared with Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The regulator said the UK had benefited from a highly competitive broadband market, which ensured it had some of the lowest fixed and mobile broadband prices on the continent.

However, the UK trails behind Germany and Spain in the take up of superfast broadband (at least 24Mbps), but is still ahead of France and Italy. Ofcom said that only 55 to 60 per cent of households in the UK had superfast broadband coverage, compared to 60 to 65 per cent in Spain and Germany. France had 35 to 40 per cent while Italy had 10 to 15 per cent. The UK also has the second highest mobile broadband uptake, just behind Spain, with 64 connections per 100 people, even though the UK has only just finished its 4G spectrum auction.

The report was part of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's attempt to measure the Government's progress in having the best superfast broadband of any major European nation by 2015.

"The UK generally performs well among major European economies. On all measures of coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice, the country ranks between third and first in the EU5," said Ofcom report's author.

The report found that the UK had the lowest proportion of individuals who had never used the internet, 11 per cent, compared with more than a third of people (39 per cent) in Italy and just under a third (29 per cent) in Spain.

Marie-Louise Abretti, telecoms expert at uSwitch said that when it comes to super-fast broadband, "it's clear we've still got some catching up to do with our European neighbours. Although 65 per cent of UK households can get super-fast 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," she said.

"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."

Ofcom is aiming to publish future scorecards as part of its International Communications Market Report.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.