Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/27/2012 -- BMI's Q312 update to the UK telecoms market report contains analysis of operational and financial data relating to the end of March 2012 and published by the country's leading telecoms service providers, including incumbent operator BT Plc and alternative operators Everyhting Everywhere, Telefonica O2, Vodafone Plc, Virgin Media, BSkyB and Talk Talk. The latest regulatory data from the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, for the mobile, fixed-line and internet sectors, at the time of writing, related to the end of December 2011.
The UK's mobile market grew by 0.4%, or net additions of 331,000 subscribers, during the first three months of 2012 to reach 76.881mn subscribers. The market's performance is slightly better than we previously expected. We have, therefore, upgraded our overall growth expectations for 2012 and the remainder of our forecast period, through to 2016. We forecast growth will pick up slightly in 2012, but expect the market will grow at an annual rate of no more than 1.5% over the forecast period, bringing the total number of subscribers to 80.9mn in 2016 at penetration of 125.8%. Meanwhile, the 3G market continues to benefit from a combination of wider network coverage, downward pressure on tariffs because of compepition and the proliferation 3G-enabled handsets and other devices. There is no change to our 3G forecast this quarter, although the slight upward revision to our mobile forecast now means that 3G subscriptions is expected to account for around 73.2% of the entire mobile market by 2016.
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Ofcom has now released fixed telephony and broadband data for YE11, showing there were some 33.23mn fixed lines in the UK at December 2011. This reflected a penetration rate of 53.2%, more than we had estimated despite continued subscriber losses at incumbent BT. We continue to expect the market will shrink over the forecast period to 2016 as customers switch to mobile and VoIP services, albeit it at a slower rate. We expect demand for fixed-line numbers and penetration to be sustained by demand for ADSL-based broadband and bundled services. BMI notes that leading fixed-line operators, including BT, BSkyB and Virgin Media have seen an uptick in the demand for their multiplay offerings. We now forecast that penetration will dip below 50% in 2015, slightly later than previously estimated at H214, and reach 49% in 2016. We expect the broadband sector to remain on a steep growth trajectory during our forecast period to reach 33.306mn connections, a penetration of 51.8%, by 2016. Despite the growing prominence of mobile broadband connections, we expect the market to continue to be dominated by fixed network connections due to considerable investment and intense competition in that sector.
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