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United Kingdom Communications


As authorised by 1981 legislation, the Thatcher government relaxed postal and telecommunications monopolies in some areas. The Telecommunications Act of 1984 further promoted competition and denationalised British Telecommunications (Telecom), which as of 2006, encompasses a system of over 33.6 million telephone exchange lines. That same year, there were close to 70 million mobile cellular phones in use throughout the country. As of 1995, there were 63,500 telex connections and 500,000 data transmission terminals. Some 170 countries can be dialed directly.

Radio and television broadcasting services are provided by the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), which was established as a public corporation in 1927, and by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Radio Authority, commercial concerns whose powers are defined in the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act of 1973. The BBC broadcasts on two television channels and the Independent Television Commission broadcasts on ITV and Channel Four, which began operating in 1982. BBC Radio offers five national radio networks in the medium- and long-wave bands, as well as FM programming and an overseas service in 37 languages. Both the BBC and IBA operate local radio services; the BBC has 39 local stations (including 2 for the Channel Islands). In September of 1992, the first national commercial radio station, Classic FM, was inaugurated, and two other similar stations were planned. As of 1999, there were 225 AM and 525 (mostly repeater) FM radio stations and 78 television stations. In 2000, there were 1,432 radios and over 500 television sets for every 1,000 people.

Broadband Internet access in the United Kingdom was, initially, provided by a large number of regional Cable television and telephone companies which gradually merged into larger groups. The development of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) technology has allowed Broadband to be delivered via traditional copper telephone cables. Also, Wireless Broadband is now available in some areas. These three technologies (Cable, ADSL and Wireless) now compete with each other. There were about 338 personal computers in use for every 1,000 people and 245 internet service providers were serving about 33.5 million people by 2006. In 2005, Northern Ireland became the only European geographic region with 100% broadband coverage and one of a few outside Asia. This was achieved by a partnership between the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and BT Northern Ireland.


Telephones - main lines in use:
33.602 million (2006)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
69.657 million (2006)

Telephone system:
general assessment: technologically advanced domestic and international system
domestic: equal mix of buried cables, microwave radio relay and fibre-optic systems
international: country code - 44; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and US; satellite earth stations - 10 Intelsat (7 Atlantic Ocean and 3 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Eutelsat; at least 8 large international switching centres

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 225, FM 525, shortwave 3 (1999)

Television broadcast stations:
228 (plus 3,523 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code:

Internet hosts:
5.118 million (2007)

Internet users:
33.534 million (2006)





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