The number of Britons on contracts has overtaken the amount of prepay users for the first time in almost 15 years.
According to Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report, 53% of the 82.7 million mobile phone owners were on a contract in 2012, an increase of four percentage points from 2011 (49%). Operators have been tussling to move consumers onto contracts as they generate greater revenue and also reduce churn. The last time contracts dominated in mobile ownership was 1999.
The report also found web-based messaging has leapfrogged traditional texting as the most popular form of communication among young adults in the first quarter of this year. Researchers revealed that 84% of 16-24 year olds use email, instant messaging or social networking at least once per week compared to 80% who use standard SMS.
Contributing to this increase in internet communication is the rapid rise in smartphone and tablet ownership. The number of adults in the UK that own smartphones has almost doubled in two years, from 27% to 51%, with almost three quarters of phone sales (74%) a smart device in the first quarter of this year. The amount of British households with a tablet has more than doubled to 24% in Q1 2013 from 11% a year ago. Tablets are most prominent in Northern Ireland with 29% of device-owning homes compared to the overall UK figure.
The rise in connected devices has contributed to what Ofcom has called ‘the reinvention of the 1950s living room’ as families are using smartphones and tablets in the main living area. Younger people are more liable to use other media while watching television (74%), while a quarter of adults are frequently using media to interact with the television - labelled ‘media meshing’ by Ofcom. Over 80% of the 2.6 million tweets associated with Andy Murray’s Wimbledon final victory came from mobile devices.
However, there was gloomier news for telecoms companies, as revenues continued to fall. Last year marked the fifth year in a row that sales fell, with revenues worth £38.8bn, down 1.8% because of regulation and a fall in wholesale revenues.
Author: Matthew Campelli