The Internet Services Providers’ Association, the UK’s leading ISP trade association, has published an anniversary report to celebrate its 25th anniversary with new data that shows consumers can today access the internet 200,000 times faster than in the 1990s.  

The report, which has been published today, looks back at the journey the UK’s internet has made over the last quarter century and charts how the internet has become fundamental to our everyday lives.

When ISPA formed in November 1995, John Major was Prime Minister, Blackburn Rovers were Premier League champions, Blur and Oasis were battling it out for the number 1 spot in the charts, and less than quarter of households had a PC as Windows 95 launched. Today, nine out of ten of us went online last year, the average UK household has 10 internet-connected devices, and one-third of new relationships started online.

So, how did we get here?

This report outlines how the internet went from being a largely hobbyist activity to a crucial part of our national infrastructure and how ISPs have been enabling this since the start. Using exclusive findings from ISPA and a wide range of interviews with current innovators, as well as the founders and early movers within the industry, this report looks at everything from the rise of internet speeds to key policy trends and industry and regulatory developments, all of which have helped shape the structure of the sector and have influenced the importance of the internet in our day to day lives.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Consumers today can access the internet 200,000 times faster than in the 1990s
  • Average downstream bandwidth available to the UK consumer has increased from 5.3Mbps at the end of 2004 to well over 200Mbps downstream across the UK in 2020
  • Median upstream bandwidth has also grown from 0.3Mbps in 2010 to 29Mbpsin 2020
  • Bandwidth has increased 50% (Compound Annual Growth Rate) consistently since 1995
  • The total number of broadband subscribers in the UK has doubled since 2007 from 14 million to over 2 million in 2020
  • Today you can get a gigabit connection for as little as £30/month and on average across the UK it’s £60/month – 6p a megabit
  • In 1995 there were a handful of infrastructure players, today there are hundreds, with national operators complemented by alternative networks and Fixed Wireless operators

ISPA Chair Andrew Glover commented:  

“25 years of ISPA is a hugely important milestone. As this report details, the rise of the ISP sector in the UK today can be closely interlinked with the vital work that ISPA has done over the years to represent and promote best practice and favourable policy outcomes for the sector.

As the UK faces even greater and more complex challenges in our response and recovery to COVID-19, it will continue to rely on the ISP sector to underpin this development. At 25, ISPA therefore remains as important as ever, and we look forward to the next 25 years of driving progress in the ISP sector.” 

The Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman MP welcomed the report’s publication and added:

"It has taken just a few decades to move from snail's pace dial-up to streaming ultra-high definition video on your phone and ISPA’s silver anniversary report showcases the sterling progress made. Ever improving internet speeds have connected the UK with the rest of the world, boosting our economy and driving countless technological and social benefits.

"Alongside ISPA and its members we’re now focused on our national mission to ensure every corner of the country has access to gigabit capable broadband. We will invest a record £5 billion to make this a reality helping to fuel our innovative wealth creators and level up communities right across the UK."

The full report is attached to this email and you can view the report’s accompanying interviews here.