The U.K.

At the end of Q2, the U.K. placed fifth worldwide for the total number of broadband subscribers – behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany. DSL overtook cable modems as the dominant technology in mid-2003, and it has since remained the main medium for delivering broadband. About 99.9 percent of the U.K. can receive broadband via DSL.

In the early ’90s, there were 29 cable operators, and now only two remain: Virgin Media and Wightcable. By mid-2007, The UKaround 13 million homes were passed by broadband-enabled cable – 52 percent of the approximately 25 million U.K. households.

The U.K. has the highest level of digital TV penetration worldwide, with only 310,100 analog subscribers as of March. Digital TV services are available to viewers in the U.K. via four main platforms: satellite, cable, IPTV and digital terrestrial TV (DTTV).

Digital satellite is the country’s most popular TV platform, largely due to the increasing subscriber bases of BSkyB and Freeview, and to the country’s rapid digital transition.

The multiplatform market in the U.K. has become one of the most competitive in the world, providing not only video but also broadband, phone and mobile services. Many providers offer triple-play services, but several also present quad-play offerings.

The U.K. also has one of the most developed markets for on-demand services. There were about 14 million on-demand-enabled homes in mid-2007, and it is forecasted to hit 15.5 million by 2008.

In addition to being an early adopter of interactive TV (iTV) and mobile TV services, the U.K. also has one of the largest online ad markets.

What follows are some brief statistics and a peek at the U.K.’s major players.

U.K. broadband stats

  • Population: 60.9 million*
  • 77.3 million mobile subs (116 percent penetration)*
  • 33.5 million fixed telephone lines in service*
  • 14.5 million broadband subs**
  • 11.2 million pay-TV digital subs**

     • 8 million digital satellite subs
    • 3.1 million digital cable subs
    • 62,000 IPTV subs

British Telecom (BT)

  • Headquarters: London
  • Largest telecom
  • Offers Internet, IPTV, digital TV (from Freeview), IT, and fixed and mobile telephony services.
  • 15.1 million telephony subs**
  • 11.2 million broadband subs***
  • Intends to add WiMAX to its existing FMC service; will bid on spectrum for mobile WiMAX later this year.

BSkyB (Sky)

  • Headquarters: London
  • Largest digital pay-TV platform with 70 percent of the market share.
  • Offers satellite TV, Internet and telephony services.
  • 8.6 million total subs***
  • 716,000 broadband subs
  • 526,000 telephony subs


  • Headquarters: London
  • Offers free-to-air digital TV, radio and interactive services.
  • About 7 million U.K. households served.*


  • Headquarters: Slough, Berkshire
  • Offers mobile and Internet services.
  • 1 million mobile subs*
  • Phone coming to O2 subs Nov.9.


  • Headquarters: Bradley Stoke, Bristol
  • Offers digital TV, fixed telephony, Internet and mobile services.
  • 13.6 million mobile subs**
  • 1.1 million broadband subs**
  • 200,000 telephony subs**

Virgin Media

  • Headquarters: London
  • Largest cable operator
  • Offers cable TV, telephony, Internet and mobile services.
  • 15.3 million total subs**

     • 4.4 million mobile subs
    • 4.1 million telephony subs
    • 3.5 million broadband subs
    • 3.4 million cable TV subs

  • NTL rebranded itself as Virgin Media in February after purchasing Virgin Mobile for $1.95 billion.
  • Provides 10 Mbps broadband services; is upgrading to 20 Mbps in many areas and is trialing a 50 Mbps service.


  • Headquarters: Cowes, Isle of Wight
  • Second-largest cable operator
  • Offers cable TV, Internet and telephony services.


* As of December 2006 | ** As of March 2007 | *** As of June 2007 | Source: BuddeComm