By: Nigel Barnett
Published: 14th Mar 2014
The average home broadband speed has doubled in less than two years, reaching nearly 18 megabits per second (Mbps) and helping to propel Britain’s digital infrastructure ahead of Europe’s other leading economies.
The UK now ranks ahead of Germany, France, Italy and Spain for the number of homes that have access to standard and superfast broadband, and has a greater proportion of people able to receive internet over their mobile phone, according to a scorecard published by the telecoms watchdog, Ofcom.
With internet gradually gaining the status of a household utility alongside water, gas and electricity, more Britons now shop online than in any other European state. The data suggests that using a tablet or desktop computer to buy groceries, clothes and entertainment is becoming a national pursuit.
The high street is moving online, with internet-only retailers such as Asos and Net-a-Porter enjoying rising sales, and John Lewis using its busy website order book to overtake Marks & Spencer in sales this year.
Seventy-seven percent of Britons have bought goods or services over the internet in the last 12 months, and 87% say they go online at least once a week. Cyber-shopping is also popular in Germany, where 68% have spent money online in the last year, but far less so in the warmer climates of southern Europe – just 20% of Italians and 32% of Spaniards have made purchases online.
“We are leading the main EU nations when it comes to superfast broadband and 4G network deployment,” said the Ofcom boss, Ed Richards. In a letter to the business secretary, Vince Cable, presenting the latest findings, he pointed out that superfast broadband is available to 73% of households and takeup is accelerating. “Since we published our last scorecard report in 2013, the UK has overtaken Germany and Spain on both measures.”