Dips in revenue can partially be attributed to the lower prices companies are charging in certain segments of the market.. The overall level of average revenue per user (ARPU) has decreased for both pre-paid and post-paid mobile consumers in recent years, a phenomenon that is evident among providers such as Vodafone and Telefónica.
Changing nature of communications
Mobile has slowly replaced fixed-line voice communication as the preferred method of making voice calls in the UK. Mobile voice call minutes exceeded fixed line minutes for the first time in 2010, and since then the gap has increased. In 2019, inhabitants of the UK made 161.78 billion minutes worth of calls over mobile networks, compared to 38.97 billion minutes over fixed networks.
The humble SMS message has also fallen out of favor, likely a victim of the popularity of free messaging apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Revenue derived from mobile messaging in the UK fell by 2.43 billion British pounds from 2010 to 2019, to reach 570 million British pounds in 2019.
Broadband in the UK
While phone calls are going mobile, fixed broadband remains a key fixture in the UK’s telecommunications mix. There were 26.8 million fixed broadband connections in the UK during 2019, reaching 80 percent of homes in the UK. Fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) is the most common fixed-broadband technology in use, with 13.46 million connections made using this method in 2019.
BT, Sky, and Virgin Media lead the way in the UK’s fixed broadband market, together accounting for 77 percent of the market.
Mobile broadband is also important in keeping people connected across the UK, with approximately 4.41 million mobile broadband subscribers in the UK as of the first quarter of 2020. Overall revenue from mobile data services reached 1.73 billion British Pounds in 2019, down from a high of 2.65 billion British pounds in 2013. Given that mobile data traffic has increased ten-fold in this time, lower revenue in this sector is another indicator of mobile telecommunications becoming cheaper for consumers.
Makeup of the market
The UK telecommunications market consists mostly of a number of large corporations – including BT, Vodafone, Telefónica, Sky, and Virgin Media – and smaller providers and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).
BT stands as the leader of most segments within the UK’s telecommunications industry. BT and Virgin Media make up the majority of the fixed-line telephony market, generating 64.9 percent of the revenue in this market. BT also hold more subscribers than any other mobile provider with a 28 percent share of the subscriber base as of 2018, and the largest share of the fixed broadband market with a 34 percent share of the market.