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

Mobile in the UK: 10 key facts

1. Customers served

At the end of December 2018, there were 92 million mobile connections in the UK (84m active mobile devices and 8m connected things. [1] 96% of the adult population have a mobile phone, making 137 active connections per head of population.

2. The internet of things

8 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.

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.

4. Annual investment

Every year, mobile operators invest £2-3 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.

5. Coverage

91% of the geographic landmass of the UK has access to 4G at least one operator and 66% of the landmass from all operators [2].

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. [3]

7. Demand for data

The average volume of data consumed per subscriber is now 2.3 gigabytes per month, up from 270megabytes in 2013. [4]

8. Economic value

The consumer surplus derived from mobile networks in 2019 is estimated £40 billion per annum. [5] 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.

     


Notes:
1. Ofcom Communications Market Report 2019
2. Ofcom Connected Nations Report, Summer 2019
3. UK5G
4. Ofcom Communications Market Report 2019
5. Analysys Mason 2013