The Communications Market Report: United Kingdom

A nation addicted to smartphones

New Ofcom research reveals the extent to which the UK has become addicted to smartphones, with people confessing to using them everywhere from the dining table to the bathroom and bedroom.

Over a quarter of adults (27 per cent) and almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) now own a smartphone, according to Ofcoms latest Communications Market Report.

Most (59 per cent) have acquired their smartphone over the past year and users make significantly more calls and send more texts than regular mobile users (81 per cent of smartphone users make calls every day compared with 53 per cent of regular users).

Teenagers especially are ditching more traditional activities in favour of their smartphone, with 23 per cent claiming to watch less TV and 15 per cent admitting they read fewer books.

And when asked about the use of these devices, 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens admit they are highly addicted.

Over half (51 per cent) of adults and two thirds (65 per cent) of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of adults and a third (34 per cent) of teenagers have used them during mealtimes and over a fifth (22 per cent) of adult and nearly half (47 per cent) of teenage smartphone users admitted using or answering their handset in the bathroom or toilet.

Ofcoms report also looks at the changes which have transformed the communications market during the last decade.

The majority of homes are now connected to the internet (25 per cent in 2000, 76 per cent in 2011) while nine out of ten people own a mobile phone (36 per cent in 2000, 91 per cent in 2011).

The majority of homes have adopted multi-channel TV (36 per cent in 2000, 93 per cent in 2010), 60 per cent of households now own an HD-Ready TV and almost half (46 per cent) have a digital video recorder (DVR).

The number of mobile voice minutes has grown by 250 per cent over the past decade (from 35 billion to 125 billion per year), and the number of text messages sent has increased by 2000 per cent (from 7 billion to 129 billion per year).

However, despite increasing use of the internet and an explosion in the range of communications devices, TV remains the nations most missed media, with viewing increasing by around 18 minutes over the last decade to just over 4 hours a day.

At the same time average monthly household spend has increased by just 12.8 per cent in real terms, to 93.10 (83.01 in 2000) and has fallen consistently year on year since 2005 (106.50).

Ofcoms Director of Research, James Thickett, said: Ofcoms 2011 Communications Market Report shows the influence that communications technology now has on our daily lives, and on the way we behave and communicate with each other.

Our research into the use of smartphones, in particular, reveals how quickly people become reliant on new technology, to the point of feeling addicted.

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 Smartphone data tables (Adults) 

 Smartphone data tables (Teens) 

Nearly 10 million TV sets were sold in 2010, almost all of which were HD ready.

Viewers currently watch just over 4 hours a day, up by approximately 18 minutes over ten years.

There were nearly 1 million internet-enabled TV sales during 2010, and 125,000 sales of TVs with 3D capabilities.

Almost half (46 per cent) of households now have a digital video recorder (DVR).

The UK TV industry collectively generated revenue of 11.8 billion in 2010, a 6.6 per cent increase on 2009, driven by both a recovery in advertising revenue and continued increases in subscription revenues.

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Some 91.6 per cent of the adults listened to the radio in the first quarter of 2011, up by 1 percentage point on 2010.

One in five (18 per cent) households use the internet to listen to the radio.

Listener hours rose to 1.04 billion per week in 2010, up by 2.1 per cent year on year.

National commercial stations saw the largest increase, up 7 per cent year on year.

UK radio industry income totalled 1.1 billion in 2010, up by 2.8 per cent in a year.

Over a quarter (26.5 per cent) of all listening was via a digital radio platform in the first quarter of 2011, 2.5 percentage points higher than in 2010.

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Total UK broadband take-up has now reached 74 per cent.

Eighty per cent of people with superfast broadband say they are satisfied with the service.

On average, internet users spent around 50 hours online on PCs in April 2011 (equivalent to 1 hour 40 minutes a day).

Nearly half of UK adults said they used social networking sites in the first three months of 2011.

Internet advertising spend grew by 16 per cent in 2010 to over 4 billion.

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Lady on the phone

Over a quarter of adults (27 per cent) and almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) now own a smartphone.

Nearly half (49 per cent) of mobile subscriptions were contract in 2010, compared to 41 per cent a year previously.

An average of five text messages per day were sent for every person in the UK last year.

Some 28 per cent of UK adults people use their mobile phones for internet access.

Total telecoms revenues fell by 2 per cent in 2010.

Mobile revenues increased slightly (up 1 per cent), but fixed voice and broadband revenues continued to decline (down 3 per cent and 6 per cent respectively).

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 Smartphone data tables (Adults) 

 Smartphone data tables (Teens)