Research from telecom regulator Ofcom says UK consumers are some of the world’s earliest adopters of new communications technologies.
Ofcom’s fifth International Communications Market report compares services in the UK with 16 other countries: France, Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Poland, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Although Italy has the highest mobile take-up overall, with 95% of the population owning a mobile phone, the UK isn’t far behind with 91% penetration. Italy also has the highest smartphone take-up – 26% – compared with 18% in the UK. However, the UK saw the highest growth in smartphone take-up in the past year with a 70% rise in subscriber numbers between January 2009 and January 2010.
29% of internet users in the UK say they use their mobile to access the internet at home, second only to Japan at 43%. Overall, UK users favour laptops to access the internet at home: 69% of internet users.
Although downloading mobile apps doesn’t vary much across different countries, use of mobile mapping and direction services has grown fastest in the UK (an 86% increase since 2009). 9% of people in the UK now use these services, compared to 5% in France and Germany.
People in the UK also use their mobile phones for social networking more than those in other countries. (24% of UK consumers compared to 13% in Germany). The UK is also the second biggest text messaging nation in Europe after Ireland, with 140 messages per person per month (218 per person per month in Ireland).
However, it's not all good news. The report notes that mobile broadband speeds have increased among the countries surveyed, with maximum theoretical downloads speeds of 100Mbps now available in Sweden - yet consumers in the UK and France only have maximum theoretical download speeds of 7.2Mbps available due to the lack of HSPA+ and LTE services.
[Ofcom pdf document]