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Ofcom has released its latest report which notes a step-change towards mobile broadband packages.

The rising popularity of mobile broadband and the trend for convergence of services have been noted as the two key trends of the UK broadband sector last year, according to the latest report into market developments from the telecommunications watchdog.

In Ofcom’s latest International Communications Market Report, it is revealed that in July of this year UK monthly sales of mobile dongle/mobile USB sticks hit 163,000. This surge in popularity helped worldwide subscriptions to the service climb to its current total of over 60 million.

The study also found that Britons have become increasingly cost conscious when it comes to choosing broadband packages and are now much more likely to seek out bundles, which include services such as paid-for TV channels and mobile and landline telephony, instead of paying for these separately. In turn, this trend has seen a profusion of broadband providers respond by packaging broadband connections along with these services as they bid for market share in an ever-more competitive sector, the report claims.

Meanwhile, the percentage of UK households who have a broadband connection stands at 60 per cent, well above the worldwide average of 56 per cent. The only nations who exceed this total are the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and the US, where take up of broadband stands at 81 per cent, 66 per cent, 62 per cent and 61 per cent respectively.

The impressive showing for the UK is despite the fact that growth in this area is slowing in Britain, with revenues reported by service providers increasing by just 14 per cent compared with a figure of 20 per cent in the last study.

However, Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, said that the next report could reflect a change in the sector as the impact of the credit crunch on the telecommunications market becomes more apparent.

He added: "Putting the UK market into an international context is becoming increasingly important, as communications service provision globalises and as technological innovation breaks down traditional national market boundaries," he said.

It is thought that the recent demand for broadband in the UK has been driven in part by the growth in TV companies offering their programming to be viewed online - both BBC and Channel now make content available on their web presences. This was borne out by the fact that Britons watched eight TV downloads per person during 2007. This puts us in second place in the international rankings behind the US, where the average was 26 programmes. We are once again trumped only by the US in internet use, with 14 hours per week spent surfing by the average Briton compared with 15 hours for Americans.

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