ICT infrastructure in the UK

An Expert's View about Telecommunications in the United Kingdom

Posted on: 26 Aug 2010

This fact sheet summarises the information, communications and technology (ICT) infrastructure in the UK.

ICT INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE UK This information sheet summarises the information, communications and technology (ICT) infrastructure in the UK. The topics covered are: 1. Overview 2. The UK ICT infrastructure 3. International ICT costs 4. Choosing an ICT service provider 5. Regulation of the UK ICT industry 6. Further information The overall quality and reliability of the ICT infrastructure is a critical location factor for businesses across all sectors. The UK has one of the strongest ICT infrastructures in the world, with privatisation of the major ICT service providers having led to greater competition and lower prices. 1. OVERVIEW Figure 1 confirms that the UK has a stronger ICT infrastructure than other major European economies including Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Figure 1: Network Readiness Index* Country Ranking 2009-2010 Sweden 1 Singapore 2 Denmark 3 Switzerland 4 US 5 Finland 6 Canada 7 Hong Kong 8 Netherlands 9 Norway 10 UK 13 Germany 14 France 18 Japan 21 Belgium 22 Ireland 24 Spain 34 Czech Republic 36 China 37 India 43 Hungary 46 Italy 48 Source: World Economic Forum, ?Global Information Technology Report?, 2010 *Global index benchmarking key ICT infrastructure factors Within Europe, London is rated by businesses as being the best location for telecommunications (Source: ?European Cities Monitor?, Cushman & Wakefield, 2009). 2. THE UK ICT INFRASTRUCTURE The UK ICT infrastructure meets the key requirements of international companies, including: a) a strong e-business environment, b) the wide availability of broadband, c) the wide availability of Wi-Fi, and d) the provision of secure servers. a) A strong e-business environment According to the ?e-readiness? rankings produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UK is ranked as one of the world?s leading locations for its e-business environment (see Figure 2), and ahead of all major European economies including Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The rankings measure economic, technological, political, infrastructural and social factors related to the development of e-business. Figure 2: E-readiness rankings Country Global Score rank (out of 10) Denmark 1 8.87 Sweden 2 8.67 Netherlands 3 8.64 Norway 4 8.62 US 5 8.60 UK 13 8.14 France 15 7.89 Germany 17 7.85 Ireland 18 7.84 Japan 22 7.69 Spain 25 7.24 Italy 26 7.09 Czech Republic 31 6.46 Hungary 35 6.04 China 56 4.33 India 58 4.17 Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2009 b) Wide availability of broadband The penetration rate of broadband technology in the UK reached 30.2% in the third quarter of 2009, significantly higher than the European Union average of 24.7% (see Figure 3), with the total number of broadband subscribers in the UK reaching 18.2 million. Figure 3: Broadband penetration in selected European countries Broadband Country penetration rate per capita UK 30.2% Germany 29.1% Belgium 28.5% European Union 24.7% Ireland 22.6% Spain 22.2% Italy 20.9% Source: European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), 2010 c) Wide availability of Wi-Fi The UK has the highest number of verified public Wi-Fi hotspots in Europe and the third highest globally behind only the US and China (see Figure 4). Figure 4: Leading Wi-Fi locations, 2009 Rank Country Wi-Fi Hotspots, March 2010 1 US 72,419 2 China 36,592 3 UK 28,187 4 France 26,603 5 Germany 14,841 6 Russian Federation 14,707 7 South Korea 12,817 8 Japan 12,101 9 Sweden 7,226 10 Switzerland 5,542 Source: Wi-Fi Alliance, 2010 At a city level, London has one of the highest numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots globally with over 4,000 (Source: Wi-Fi Alliance, 2010), whilst several UK cities are currently implementing Wi-Max technologies to further enhance wireless connectivity. d) Provision of secure servers The UK has the highest number of secure servers in Europe and the third highest globally behind only the US and Japan (Source: OECD Communications Outlook, 2009). 3. INTERNATIONAL ICT COSTS ICT costs in the UK are highly competitive, with companies able to select from a range of providers and tariffs to suit their specific requirements. For indicative purposes only, Figures 5 shows the average costs in key European locations of a ten minute national call. Figure 5: Average cost of 10 minute national telephone call Country Cost (?)* UK 0.51 Germany 0.51 Belgium 0.60 European Union average 0.67 France 0.77 Ireland 0.86 Spain 0.90 Italy 1.15 Source: Eurostat, 2010 *Excludes taxes Broadband costs are highly competitive in the UK and amongst the lowest in the European Union, as detailed in Figure 6. Figure 6: Average monthly broadband cost (per advertised Mbits/s) Country Cost (US$) UK 4.08 Italy 5.28 Germany 5.64 Netherlands 8.83 Belgium 10.23 Ireland 11.19 Source: OECD, 2009 4. CHOOSING AN ICT SERVICE PROVIDER There is a wide range of registered telecommunications and internet service providers in the UK. For further information and details of specific service providers, please see: ? Fixed line telephone services: www.telecomsadvice.org.uk/infosheets/buyers_guide_to_fixed_telecom _telephone_services.htm or www.ofcom.org.uk/consumeradvice/landline/ ? Mobile telephone services: www.telecomsadvice.org.uk/infosheets/buyers_guide_to_mobile_phone _services.htm ? Broadband/ADSL services: www.thinkbroadband.com 5. REGULATION OF THE UK ICT INDUSTRY Ofcom is the independent organisation that regulates the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across telecommunications, wireless communications services, television and radio. For further information, please see: www.ofcom.org.uk 6. FURTHER INFORMATION This information sheet was updated in March 2010. As information changes from time to time, please contact the organisations listed or UK Trade & Investment to confirm any item that you intend to rely on. This information sheet was produced by the Marketing Group of: UK Trade & Investment 9th Floor Kingsgate House 66-74 Victoria Street London SW1E 6SW Tel: +44 (0)20 7215 4957 Email: enquiries@uktradeinvest.gov.uk Website: www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk
Posted: 26 August 2010

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