The Communications Market Report: Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland embraces online world
Northern Ireland is increasingly embracing the online world, with more people than ever before using social networking, watching catch-up TV, and making calls over the internet.
More people also have an MP3 player or an iPod than anywhere else in the UK, while more than half of homes (52 per cent) have a games console, the highest proportion in the UK.
Five years ago only a quarter of homes in Northern Ireland had broadband.
But take-up now stands at 70 per cent, almost matching the UK average of 71 per cent and well ahead of Scotland and Wales.
The increase in broadband has led to a rise in online activities such as social networking, watching catch-up TV, and making calls over the internet.
Rural consumers are also ahead of their urban neighbours when it comes to the use of many communications services, including broadband, mobile phones and satellite television.
However, people in Northern Ireland are consistently less satisfied with their home phone, mobile and broadband services than consumers elsewhere in the UK.
Despite this they're less likely to switch provider - only 26 per cent of respondents said they had ever switched broadband provider, compared to 30 per cent across the UK.
Ofcom's Director in Northern Ireland, Denis Wolinski, said: 'This is the fifth year we have produced the Communications Market Report for Northern Ireland.
'Over the last four years not only have we seen Northern Ireland catch up, and in some cases overtake, the rest of the UK in the use of the latest communications services, but we have also seen the report become established as an invaluable reference source for anyone here with an interest in communications.'
Satellite is the most popular TV platform, with 43 per cent of homes having satellite as their main way of watching television.
Freeview is the next most popular at 28 per cent, with cable at 12 per cent. Only 13 per cent of households still rely on analogue TV on their main set.
People in rural areas are more likely to have satellite television - 51 per cent compared to 40 per cent in urban areas.
Early evening TV news continues to be very popular - UTVs programme attracts the highest audience share of any nations and regions bulletin.
The amount of money spent by the BBC and UTV on television programming - and the number of hours they produced for viewers in Northern Ireland - both fell in the last year.
More people in Northern Ireland regard radio as their main source of news than anywhere else in the UK.
The BBC spent £18.8m on radio services in 2009/10, an increase of £0.4m (2.2 per cent) year on year, and spend per head was the second highest of the UK nations at around £11.12 per person, just below Wales.
Commercial radio revenue per head was the second highest in the UK.
Northern Ireland has the lowest take-up of DAB radios in the UK at 22 per cent compared to a UK figure of 38 per cent.
Seventy per cent of homes in Northern Ireland now have broadband - up 6 per cent from last year and putting Northern Ireland on a par with the UK as a whole.
Broadband continues to be more popular in rural than urban areas - (72 per cent compared to 69 per cent).
Over a third of people in Northern Ireland (36 per cent) now use social networking sites, 38 per cent watch TV online and 15 per cent of households make phone or video calls over the internet - all significant increases on 2009.
Four in ten households in the Belfast area use the internet for banking.
The use of mobile broadband has increased by 6 per cent from last year and is now used in 14 per cent of all homes.
Almost one in five households (18 per cent) now relies on a mobile phone rather than a traditional fixed-line home phone.
Fixed-line ownership in Northern Ireland is down 6 per cent from last year.
Consumers in rural areas are also more likely to own a mobile phone than their urban neighbours (90 per cent compared to 87 per cent).
Since 2006 Northern Ireland has seen a 59 per cent increase in the proportion of households connected to an unbundled exchange - an exchange where another telecoms provider is able to provide its service over BT phone lines. This is the highest growth rate among the UK nations over this period.
2G mobile population coverage in Northern Ireland reached 89 per cent in 2010 (UK average 97 per cent).
But coverage for 3G was only 40 per cent, well below the UK average of 87 per cent and represented the lowest figure among the UK nations.
The market context
- Availability of communications platforms and services in Northern Ireland
- Take-up of communications platforms and services in Northern Ireland
- Adoption of communications technology/service in urban and rural locations
- Consumer take-up of bundled services in Northern Ireland
- Consumers in the Belfast metropolitan area most likely to take bundles of communications services
- Spending by public service broadcasters on television and radio content in Northern Ireland
- Consumption of television and radio services by people in Northern Ireland
- Use of converged platforms and devices by people in Northern Ireland
- Consumer spending on communications services
- The communications service where consumers would be most likely to cut spend
- Consumers in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK believe that communications providers are offering improved deals now compared with 12 months ago
- Bundled services
- Northern Ireland consumers agreement/disagreement that they were more likely to take communications services in a bundle
- Acquisition of new communications equipment
- Consumers agreement with a range of statements exploring changes in behaviour over the last twelve months Northern
- Attitudes of consumers in Northern Ireland towards the economy
- Fixed broadband services
- Distribution of UK exchanges by geographic market definition
- UK-wide availability of Virgin Media cable broadband
- Estimated average and maximum download speeds, by nation, May 2010
- People living in urban areas in Northern Ireland are the most satisfied with their broadband service
- Mobile service availability in Northern Ireland
- 2G mobile availability in Northern Ireland
- 2G mobile coverage across the UK
- 3G mobile phone geographic and population coverage, by number of operators
- 3G coverage map UK and Northern Ireland
- Over a third of mobile phone users in Northern Ireland claim to regularly experience mobile not-spots
- Most consumers in Northern Ireland are satisfied with their mobile phone service
- The consumers experience of not-spots in Northern Ireland
- Current progress and future work on not-spots
TV and video content
- Recent developments in Northern Ireland
- Network production in Northern Ireland
- Local television
- TV and film production in Northern Ireland
- Digital switchover in Northern Ireland
- Transmitter groups to switch in Northern Ireland
- Consumer readiness in Northern Ireland
- PSB spend on TV programmes for viewers in Northern Ireland
- Spend on originated nations and regions output by the nation, 2004 and 2009
- Change in investment, by genre and nation, 2004 2009
- Investments per head made by the BBC and ITV1 in regional and national output, 2009
- Hours of programmes for viewers in Northern Ireland down in 2009
- The cost of output for the nations, by genre, 2009
- Non-network production in the nations and English regions
- Programme production in the nations and English regions
- Expenditure on out-of-London production
- Volume of out-of-London production
- Breakdown of expenditure, by broadcaster
- Breakdown of production volume, by broadcaster
- Non-network production in Northern Ireland
- Other quota compliance matters
- UTV performance against the independent quota, 2009
- Proportion of repeats broadcast by UTV, 2009
- Digital television take-up in Northern Ireland
- Satellite is the most widely-used TV platform in Northern Ireland
- Fifty-five per cent of homes take a pay-TV service
- Broadcast television viewing
- Reduction in combined share of the main PSB channels, 2004 2009
- PSBs and their portfolio channels share of viewing is rising in multichannel homes
- Regional television news is most popular in Northern Ireland
- BBC One and ITV1/STV/UTV / ITV Wales early evening news bulletin share, 2009
- Sources of local news
- Over a third of households in Northern Ireland used the internet to watch video online
- One in five households in Northern Ireland use the internet to watch catch-up TV
- Watching video clips and webcasts is highest in Northern Ireland
- Take-up of leading games consoles is highest in Northern Ireland
Radio and audio content
- Commercial radio in Northern Ireland
- Radio in Northern Ireland
- BBC spend on national radio second highest in UK on a per-head basis
- Commercial radio revenue
- Radio service availability
- Radio listening in Northern Ireland second highest in UK
- BBC stations account for over half of all listening in Northern Ireland
- BBC Radio Ulster / BBC Radio Foyle is the most widely-used BBC national service, reaching 36% of adults per week
- DAB digital radio sets: ownership of DAB digital radio sets below UK average
- Likelihood to purchase DAB radio set highest in Northern Ireland
- Reasons for not purchasing a DAB radio set
- Use of MP3 players highest in Northern Ireland
- The number of people listening to the radio through digital TV and online is lower in Northern Ireland than in other UK nations, while mobile listening is above average
- Digital radio share of listening lower in Northern Ireland
- Using a mobile phone to listen to audio is most common in Northern Ireland
- Frequency of listening to radio online is higher in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK
- Listening to streamed audio services is still a niche activity
- Satisfaction with choice of radio services lowest in Northern Ireland
Internet and online content
- Recent developments in Northern Ireland
- My GroupNI
- Broadband take-up
- Mobile broadband is used by 14% of households in Northern Ireland
- Mobile broadband awareness has increased by 10% in Northern Ireland
- Proportion of adults who have used a mobile phone to access the internet
- Non-ownership of broadband
- Broadband users in Northern Ireland are most likely to use the internet to send emails and surf the web
- More than a fifth of people with internet access in Northern Ireland have accessed government services online
- A third of people with internet access in Northern Ireland use the internet to access online banking services
- Almost a quarter of people with internet access in Northern Ireland look for health-related information online
- Social networking
Telecoms and networks
- Fixed voice telephony and narrowband internet availability
- Broadband internet availability
- DSL broadband availability
- LLU broadband availability
- Urban households more than twice as likely as rural ones to be able to access LLU broadband services
- Map of LLU DSL availability reflects higher availability in urban areas
- Cable broadband
- Northern Ireland has the third-highest proportion of urban homes passed by Virgin Media's cable broadband network, and the lowest proportion of rural homes
- As with LLU DSL, cable broadband availability is concentrated in urban areas
- 2G mobile phone geographic coverage by number of operators
- 3G mobile phone geographic coverage by number of operators
- Service take-up
- Fixed-line take-up
- High take-up of 2G mobile services
- Rise in mobile-only households in Northern Ireland, to 18%
- Pay-as-you-go mobile phones are more popular in Northern Ireland (64%) than in the UK as a whole
- Take-up of 3G and broadband below the UK average
- Use of the internet to make phone calls (VoIP) has grown most in urban Northern Ireland
- Satisfaction with telecoms services
- Fixed voice
- Fixed broadband
- Satisfaction with value for money of fixed broadband service
- Satisfaction with mobile broadband
- Satisfaction with mobile
- Satisfaction with value for money of mobile services in Northern Ireland
- Satisfaction with mobile phone reception among users in Northern Ireland