Who’s the Daddy? When it comes to superfast broadband BT says it’s the UK. You might disagree

That this report - International benchmark of superfast broadband - was commissioned by BT and mixes historical (factual) data on broadband performance up to 2012 and adds Analysys Mason’s forecasts to 2018, obviously rings a warning bell. But to dismiss it as unreliable on that basis goes nowhere. What would be more interesting and useful if issue were taken with this report, would be to try and work out why and where analysis and research design diverges with other reports that reach different conclusions.

First the results. According to Analysys Mason more than 70 per cent of premises in the UK were able to access superfast broadband at the end of 2012, a stat that puts the UK ahead of France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The report goes on to predicts that the UK will be among the best-performing countries globally by 2018.

“There is an ongoing debate about the UK’s performance relative to other countries for superfast broadband,” says Analysys Mason Partner Matt Yardley. “This report shows that the UK does very well on most superfast broadband benchmarks today, and by 2018 it will continue to outpace its major European competitors and even outperform Japan and the USA on some measures.”

Here’s a summary.

Relative to the other big 5 European countries, the UK ranks:

- First for superfast broadband coverage. Over 70 per cent of premises in the UK could access superfast broadband at the end of 2012. This compares with 66 per cent in Germany, the next best performing country. Analysys Mason expects that by 2018, 95 per cent of UK premises will have access to superfast broadband, keeping it ahead of the other large European markets.

- First for superfast broadband take-up. Adoption was higher in the UK at the end of 2012 than elsewhere in the big 5, with 18 per cent of premises taking services with superfast speeds. By 2018, Analysys Mason predicts that half of UK premises will subscribe to superfast broadband, compared with the Western European average of 42 per cent.

- First for average measured downstream bandwidth, based on data from Ookla. At 22.6Mbit/s (see note to Editors), the UK leads the top five European economies

- First for the overall competitiveness of the broadband market.

- Third for the price of superfast broadband. Prices in the UK are similar to the average price in the big 5, though higher than the lowest-priced offers in France and Germany. Of the incumbent operators in the five major economies, BT Retail’s prices are the lowest when compared with those of France Telecom, Telefónica, Deutsche Telecom and Telecom Italia.

Only smaller European countries – such as The Netherlands and Sweden – that have extensive cable coverage or where superfast connections have been available for longer have better or comparable average speeds, coverage, and take-up of superfast broadband than the UK.

How should ‘offering’ access by enabling local nodes or exchanges or having ‘passed’ premises, be marked? Clearly it is not the same as providing service, but is it worth nil points? After all, unsold stock might be construed as a sign of high pricing, bad marketing or faulty demand analysis (or all of the above). Answers below.

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