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Ofcom’s Latest Communications Market Report Reveals Brits Spend More Time Using Media & Comms Than They Do Sleeping

The average Britain spends more time using media and communications than they do sleeping, says Ofcom’s latest report into the state of the UK’s communications market.

UK adults spend 8 hours and 45 minutes each day using media and communications tools, and a mere 8 hours 18 minutes sleeping, according to the Communications Market Report, an annual review of the nation’s digital habits.

Mercifully this year there is a bitesize summary version available for analysts, journalists and entrepreneurs trying to understand or predict the latest trends with disruptive business ideas and profits in mind.

Communications services in 2015 generated £56.5bn of revenues, with average household spending on TV, radio, internet, telephony and post weighing in at £1,426.80 per annum, or £118.90 per month.

4G take-up has risen to 48% of all UK adults, up from 30% the year before, and 4G mobile services are available to 97.8% of all UK premises. 37% of all broadband connections are providing speeds of more than 30Mbit/s, and 86% of adults have an internet connection at home.

Smartphones, predictably, are becoming ubiquitous – 7 out of 10 adults own one, up from 6.5 in 2015.

According to the report OTT communications services are gaining significant traction, whilst more traditional electronic communications services, like email or text message are becoming less popular.

43% of adults are apparently using messaging services like Facebook messenger and Whatsapp, up from 28% in 2015, whilst video messaging services such as Snapchat are attracting the interest of one in five adults, up from 14% of adults in 2014. Video on demand’s popularity has risen by a similar proportion.

More digital communications usage means more demand for data – fixed broadband lines are now using 82GB of data per month – in June this represented a 41% increase on the same month the year before.

But, TV and Radio remain popular, with nine out ten adults watching live TV at least once per week, whilst three quarters of UK adults use the radio.

Nine out of ten adults are using the internet every day, spending 25 hours each week online. The figure rises to 29 hours for 16-24 year olds.

6 in every 10 people questioned said they were “hooked” on their smartphone or tablet device, with 15% admitting to being “completely hooked”.

4 out of every 10 believe they spend too much time online, however, with some users reporting that their usage has had a negative effect on their work or personal lives. Others are aggrieved by how much time friends and colleagues spend using their devices (rather than interacting), whilst a quarter of people have been bumped into in the street by somebody too busy checking their phone to look where they were going. In England, people…England!

There are 24.7 million fixed internet connections in the UK, and 9.2m superfast connections, up 2m in the last year. 37.1% of all connections will be superfast by the end of the year.

There is now a “USO”, or Universal Service Obligation for broadband services in the UK meaning everyone in the UK has the right to request broadband with a speed of at least 10Mbit/s – the government say that 2.4m UK homes cannot currently such speeds. Work to be done.

The number of landlines has fallen by 0.3m to 33.2m, but mobile subscriptions increased by 1.6m to 91.5m. Fixed-to-mobile substitutions continue; fixed call minutes fell to 74 billion minutes in 2015, a drop of 9%; voice call (mobile) increased to a staggering 143 billion minutes. 93% of consumers aged 16 or over now own a mobile phone, as opposed to just 86% who have a landline.

The number of texts sent plummeted by 7.6% or 8 billion messages, whilct instant messages increased. Provided you have access to broadband, messaging apps represent the logical, cheaper, choice.

People use smartphones more for surfing the net than any other device – 36% said it was their method of choice, and between 16-34 year olds the figure shoots up to 56%. Nine in ten under 35-year-olds (older than 16) own a smartphone.

The brits took to online shopping before almost anybody else, and continue to buy and sell far more than any other nation. Two-thirds of internet users said they buy goods and services online, whilst 44% use it to research health issues, and 42% use it to access news (which seems a surprisingly small figure).

Interestingly, there has never been more money spent on producing content than there was in 2015. £6.5bn was spent on network TV programmes, driven primarily by record levels of investment into premium sports content by SKY and BT. And surely a costume drama or two.

Brits still make 74 billion minutes worth of fixed line calls in a year, but that huge-sounding figure actually represents a decline of 7%

And Finally

People don’t send letters like they used to; letter volumes fell by 3.7% to 12.2 billion during 2015, just 6.6 items per month; 1.2 of these are parcels. 56% of the population say they would rather send an email than a letter.

Ofcom will be busy during the rest of 2016 delivering on the proposals it set out in its Strategic Review of Digital Communications, in January. These include reforming the relationship between Openreach and and BT, giving more independence to Openreach, making it a distinct company from BT, thus allowing it to “act in the interests of all of its customers equally”.

Ofcom also hopes to “improve consumers and businesses ability to make informed choices” by providing more detailed, granular data about mobile broadband coverage, fixed broadband speeds and quality of service.

They will also be “monitoring price increases, providing advice and information on pricing, and making sure all consumers receive value from their communications providers.”

It’s good to know the government is keeping such a close eye on the nation’s use of communications and the internet – we think!

There’s no doubt that in a country now being run by one of longest serving Hoem Secretary’s of all time, security is not likely to be overlooked or ignored. In that spirit there will 4 more reports released by Ofcom by the end of the year; Children and Parents; Media Use and Attitudes Report, out in October, followed by SME Experience of Communications Services, due in November, and Connected Nations and the International Communications Market Report, both slated for release in December.

There are very few secrets anymore, it would seem, when it comes to digital communication.


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