UK communications habits outlined in Ofcom survey

People in the UK are spending more time using communications services, but are paying less for them, according to Ofcom’s analysis of our habits in 2007.

The report – entitled ‘The Communications Market 2008’ – shows that last year we spent an average of seven hours and nine minutes a day using communications services, such as watching television, surfing the net, using our mobiles, talking on a landline and listening to the radio. This is six minutes more than in 2002.

Over the same five-year period we have quadrupled the time we spend using PCs and laptops, to 24 minutes each every day, and doubled the time we spend texting, to 10 minutes a day.

However, we are paying less, spending an average of £93.63 on communications services per household per month, down 1.6 per cent on 2006 and down 4.4 per cent since 2004. The report says this is due to lower broadband prices, more bundling and greater bargain hunting and switching.

Broadband use over landlines has risen to cover 58 per cent of households and more than two million people now access the internet using mobile broadband services. Between February and June, 511,000 new mobile broadband connections were made in the UK. Oddly, three-quarters of mobile broadband users use it at home.

More than one in ten mobile phone users have accessed the internet on their mobile phone, as 3G mobile connections grew 60 per cent in 2007 to reach 12.5 million subscribers – up 4.7 million in 12 months.

By the end of 2007, there were almost 74 million mobile connections in the UK, 48 per cent more than in 2002. The UK population is 60 million.

Seven out of ten people with a mobile phone and a landline use their mobile to make calls, even at home. One in ten people with a home landline never use it to make calls.

We also text a lot – more than a billion messages a week, or 60 billion a year – or a staggering average of a thousand messages each for everyone in Britain. This is up 36 per cent since 2006 and up 234 per cent since 2002, when we sent 17 billion texts.

The number of people using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) fell from 20 per cent in 2006 to 14 per cent in the first quarter of 2008.

Daily TV viewing is up by two minutes to 218 minutes each day, but we’re taking control of what we watch. The number of internet users who now watch TV on the internet has more than doubled, to 17 per cent, in twelve months. Nearly a third of internet users (32 per cent) watched video clips and webcasts in 2007, compared to a fifth (21 per cent) in 2006. The number of UK internet users who watched YouTube reached 9 million in April this year, nearly 50 per cent more than a year ago.

The report also shows that:

  • By July 2008, nearly 9 out of 10 households had digital television (87.2) compared to 7 out of 10 twelve months ago.
  • By March 2008, nearly 80 per cent of all TV sets sold in the UK were High-Definition (HD) ready, up from 50 per cent in twelve months. The number of HD subscriptions more than doubled to reach 829,000 over the same period.
  • People are favouring larger television screens: a fifth of all TV sales were for 33-inch screens and larger.

An age divide is also emerging. When asked which media activity users would most miss, more than half of us (52 per cent) said it would be watching TV, followed up using a mobile phone at 13 per cent. But in the 16-19 age group, 42 per cent would miss their mobile most, with watching TV coming next at 20 per cent.

The majority of children have access to the internet and most have a mobile phone but they use them in different ways. Boys aged 8-11 are twice as likely to use the internet every day than girls of the same age (45 per cent compared to 22 per cent).

Meanwhile girls aged 12 -15 are more likely to use a mobile phone than boys of the same age (74 per cent compared to 65 per cent).

Instant messaging is more popular than email amongst children, with 62 per cent of 12-15 year old sending an instant message, compared with 43 per cent of them sending an email. Adults prefer to email – 80 per cent of adults sent an email compared to 34 per cent who used instant messaging.

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