Scotland: broadband flatlining

Thursday 29th December 2011
Vicki Nash, director Ofcom Scotland. Courtesy: BBC Scotland

Vicki Nash, director of Ofcom Scotland, says that despite increasingly sophisticated broadband packages available to more and more Scots, they are less likely than the rest of the UK to take up broadband. Probably because the promised speeds are never achieved. With an ever-increasing range of public services available online and the importance of the digital economy, there is a risk of Scotland being left behind.

An International Communications Market report from Ofcom  says UK global communications sector revenues increased by 3.4% in 2010 to £1,132bn - a record high, with the UK generating £39bn of revenues in 2010 (3rd largest in Europe behind France, £44bn, and Germany, £49bn.) Global growth was driven by strong growth in the BRIC countries (Brazil, India, Russia and China).

Smart shopalisers emerging as Scotland lags
“Across the globe people are embracing e-commerce and social media with enthusiasm. Our research shows that the UK communications market is … standing up well against international benchmarks,” said (right) Ofcom CEO, Ed Richards.

The mobile web now is exceeding the growth of desktop web  in early (96-98) years with mobile becaming one of the largest growth components, its share of the overall search market now reaching 20%.

Scotlands broadband take-up is lagging behind the rest of the UK although broadcasting production and digital TV is more promising.
Broadband take-up remains flat year on year at 61% of homes - 13% points lower than the UK average - meaning Scotland continues to have the lowest broadband take-up of all the UK nations. 

Take-up is particularly low in Greater Glasgow (50%), amongst those aged 55+ (34%), by DE social groups (30%), and in households with incomes less than £17.5k pa (26%).

But it is also noteable that Scotland is also the only UK nation to experience a decrease in satisfaction with broadband speeds (73% in 2010 compared with 83% in 2009) largely because promised rates do not live up to performance expections.

However, not all the broadband findings are negative. Broadband uptake in Scotland compares well against the UK average among 35-54 year olds (85% compared to the UK average of 83%). There has also been an increase in the use of mobile broadband with almost 1:10 households now having access to a laptop or PC with a broadband dongle.

There is evidence of increased network TV production in Scotland. First-run network productions accounted for 4.6 % of UK expenditure, up from 3.6% of total expenditure in 2009. In terms of volume of TV programming, Scottish producers delivered 4.6% of all first-run hours during 2010, up from 3.3% twelve months earlier (and up from 1.6% in 2006).

Public Service Broadcasting spend on national and regional TV programming for viewers in Scotland also experienced a slight 1% increase to reach 52m in 2010.

Watching TV over the internet increased by 7% to 35% while digital TV take-up now stands at 97% of TV homes up 6% points since last year. TV viewing remains high in Scotland, at an average of 4.5hrs viewing per day, compared to a UK average of 4hrs 

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