Through the looking glass? What lies within Ofcom’s Comms Market Report?

Through the looking glass? What lies within Ofcom’s Comms Market Report?

Last week saw the publication of what has become a bit of a bible in the TMT sector – Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for 2008.

Perhaps some of you who are more diligent than me and have worked through the 2inch thick report by now, may have more detailed views, which I would certainly be interested in hearing.

However, even the headline themes and stats make for initial interesting reading.

Working for the Broadband Stakeholder Group, it is no surprise that my attention immediately went to observations about the development of the broadband market.

There are no great surprises in here. However, the findings set out by Ofcom do confirm some of the trends various pundits have observed over the last 12 months or so.

Firstly, the number of consumers buying bundles of three of more services is on the rise. Whilst the number of households taking a bundled communications service in 2007 remained the same as the 2006 figure – 4 in 10, the nature of these bundles has changed.

Triple-play bundles now account for 32% of bundles taken in 2007. This increase perhaps reflects both the efforts providers such as Virgin Media and BSkyB to market these packages, and the value consumers now put on certain services. Have we reached the stage where multichannel on-demand TV is now seen as a core service people will pay for, alongside their phone and broadband?

Mobile broadband is another key development identified in the Ofcom study. Much has been said about the success of the dongle in recent months, and here are some stats to back up that assumption. Ofcom’s research shows that between February and June this year, monthly sales of these devices rose from 69,000 to 133,000 a month. Furthermore, 1.5 million people state that they use them at home as well as outside, giving credence to the perception that mobile broadband is beginning to put a real competitive pressure on fixed-line providers.

This trend is particularly important in the context of the UK’s move to next generation broadband (discussed briefly at page 303). Mobile broadband could prove to be popular as we move to faster, fixed-line broadband speeds. However, the role that it could play in a next generation environment is harder to predict.

We, like many others, look forward to Ofcom’s regulatory statement on NGA, for clarity on the regulatory framework that will underpin and support this important transition.

Pamela Learmonth, Policy Manager, BSG