Research from comms regulator Ofcom indicates that UK consumers are continuing to embrace digital communications services and lead internationally as a digitally advanced nation.

Ofcom’s International Communications Market data provides a snapshot of the £548 billion communications market in twelve major economies in the five years to 2008 and looks at take-up, availability, pricing and use of broadband, landlines and mobiles, TV and radio in these and the four fast growing economies of Brazil, India, Russia and China.

In terms of TV viewing on digital sets, the UK witnessed the highest average increase in TV watching during 2008, up by 3.2 per cent to 3.8 hours a day. This was higher than the average (3.5 hours per day) across the European countries surveyed, but still slightly less than viewers in Italy, Poland and Spain. US viewers consumed the most television in 2008, watching on average 4.6 hours a day, up 1.8 per cent from 2007, whilst viewers in Sweden continued to watch the least at 2.7 hours a day, although this was a 1.9 per cent increase across the year.

The proportion of primary TV sets that had been converted to digital in the UK continued to grow in 2008, with the average among our comparator countries increasing by seven percentage points to 67 per cent during the year. The fastest rate of conversion was in Spain, where over 18 per cent of households migrated to digital services in 2008.

The UK remained the country with the highest proportion of households with digital TV on their main set, at 88 per cent in 2008, up three percentage points in the previous 12 months in the run up to switchover. The US was next with 76 per cent of households having digital TV, up by 6 percentage points on the previous year, closely followed by Spain which had the highest year-on-year increase of 18 percentage points, with 74 per cent of households having converted to digital by the end of 2008.

The UK had the second highest household take-up of digital terrestrial television services at the end of 2008 at 38 per cent, second only to Spain (45 per cent) among the 12 comparator countries. At the same time, UK household digital satellite television take-up in the UK (36 per cent) was the third highest, behind Ireland and Poland.

Growth in the number of broadband connections continued in all of Ofcom’s 12 main comparator countries in 2008, although the average rate of growth more than halved from 20.9 per cent in 2007 to 9.1 per cent. This was significantly lower than the 40 per cent average growth among the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) also covered in the report. Over the five years to 2008, the UK had the second highest growth in broadband lines per person among our 12 main comparator countries, at 23 connections per 100 people. During the same period the highest rate of growth was in the Netherlands at 25 connections per 100 people.