"Mobile operators are currently deploying the Fourth Generation (4G) of mobile technology, bringing a truly mobile broadband experience to UK consumers."

Mobile Facts

1. Customers served

There are 94.67 million mobile connections in the UK (83.8m active mobile devices and 10.8m connected things. [1] 98% of the adult population have a mobile phone, making 1.37 active connections per head of population.

2. The internet of things

Ten million 'things' are now connected to mobile networks (i.e. they contain a SIM card).  Common applications for ‘machine to machine’ (M2M) connections are energy meters, vending machines and burglar alarms. [2]

The number of connections is expected to rise rapidly as smart meters are rolled out and M2M is used for applications such as the connected car, livestock tracking and environmental monitoring.

3. 5G

Mobile operators are currently launching the Fifth Generation (5G) of mobile technology. 5G is estimated to be available from at least one mobile network operator (MNO) outside to 42-57% of premisis. For further information on 5G click here. [3]

4. Annual investment

Every year, mobile operators invest around £2 billion in new network infrastructure, accounting for approximately 5% of all investment in plant and machinery in the UK. Investment goes towards new capabilities, more capacity and greater geographic coverage. [4]

5. Coverage

98% of premises have outdoor 4G coverage from all mobile operators while the geographic landmass of the UK covered by individual mobile operators ranges from 92%. [4].

6. Speed capability

The mobile broadband speeds enabled by 4G have markedly increased utility and convenience. In just over 10 years, data speeds have increased by 1,000 times compared to 2G. Average download speeds are now in the range of 14-32 megabits per second. Early operational experience of download speeds from 5G are considerably faster, in the range of 130mbps to 240mbps. [6]

7. Demand for data

The average volume of data consumed per subscriber is now 4.54 gigabytes per month, up from 470 megabytes in 2013. [7]

8. Economic value

The consumer surplus derived from mobile networks in 2019 is estimated £40 billion per annum. [8] Mobile communications supports a supply chain of infrastructure, equipment, applications and content providers that accounts for 75,000 jobs.

9. Social value

The social impact of mobile connectivity is wide and varied. Mobile users make 20 million calls to the emergency services every year, while other social impacts include;

  • Access to government services such as employment, benefits and housing;
  • Social inclusion (16% of people use a mobile device as their only route to the internet)
  • Preventative healthcare through e-health applications;
  • Access to isolated friends and relations via social media and to new connections via dating apps;
  • Access to banking facilities such as migrant worker remittance

9. Business value

In 2018, the annual value of UK mobile ad-spend was £6.9 billion – about 51% of all digital ad-spend. This represents an enormous growth (the total was just £19 million in 2008) and reflects the huge increase in the quantity and value of mobile data use and conversion rates in that time.


1. Ofcom Communications Market Report 2021
2. Ofcom Connected Nations Report, December 2021
3. Ofcom Connected Nations Report, December 2021
4. Ofcom Connected Nations Report, December 2022
5. Ofcom Connected Nations Report, December 2021
6. UK5G
7. Ofcom Communications Market Report 2019
8. Analysys Mason 2013