The UK is leading the uptake of new technologies such as digital TV, broadband and mobile services, according to Ofcom's third International Communications Market Report.
The report takes a close look at the global communications market, investigating the take-up, availability and use of broadband, landlines, mobiles, TV and radio in 12 established industrial economies, and the emerging economies of Brazil, India, Russia and China.
With the digital switchover underway, the UK has the most households with a digital TV as their main set, up nine per cent on last year and now sitting at 86 per cent. The US has 70 per cent of households with a digital TV, up 15 per cent since 2007, followed by France at 66 per cent, up an impressive 25 per cent.
Similarly, the uptake of high-definition TV services, and the use of digital video recorders, have seen a huge jump, particularly in the UK, US and Canada.
The US and UK also lead the trend of watching TV online. People in the US watched nearly 26 TV programmes online per person in 2007, more than three times higher than in the UK at eight TV downloads per person.
Ofcom attributes this increase to popular free-to-view TV being provided online through services such as the BBC iPlayer in the UK, and the recently launched Hulu service in the US.
When it comes to paying for these services, consumers, particularly in the UK, are becoming increasingly savvy and seeking out bundles and other competitive deals when buying communications services. As a result many service providers are selling triple-play or even quad-play bundles, offering landline, mobile, internet and digital TV rolled into one package.
"The latest report from Ofcom shows just how much appetite there is for new technology. With the UK leading most of Europe in the take-up of digital TV, mobile and broadband, the market has become good value for the consumer," said James Parker, manager of mobiles and broadband at comparison site moneysupermarket.com.
"Consumers can get real value from their provider and, with providers fighting for new customers and dropping their prices, customers can easily swap to a better deal."
Mobile growth has slowed in markets such as the UK, where penetration now exceeds 100 per cent, but is particularly high in emerging markets. The report highlighted 216 million new mobile subscriptions in Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Meanwhile, mobile broadband has become much more popular and now exceeds 60 million subscribers worldwide. In the UK, monthly mobile dongle sales reached 163,000 in July 2008.
Although mobile broadband is gaining traction, traditional fixed line broadband was the fastest growing sector in terms of connections and revenues. However, growth in this area is slowing in most countries, including the UK, where service revenues increased by 14 per cent in 2007, compared to 20 per cent a year ago.
"With the BBC announcing that it is to stream live online, on-demand TV growing at an incredible rate and video sites getting more visitors than news pages, internet capability has to be at its best," said Parker.
"Unfortunately, millions of consumers are still failing to get the top speeds from their connections, and will not be able to enjoy these full services.
"Ofcom needs to ensure that the development of broadband continues at its current rate, and that customers are fully aware of the speeds they are able to achieve."
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