Mobile voice has dropped for the first time – but text/SMS is booming

The number of mobile phone calls made in the UK has dropped for the first time, while the text-based communications continues to take over, according to telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Ofcom compiles a 'Communications Market Report' once a year, and this time around it found SMS use to be soaring, with the use of social networking as a means of communication. Fixed-line voice calls have been declining for some time, but the drop in mobile voice calls is exceptional.

The total time spent talking on mobile phones has dropped by one percent in 2011, said Ofcom. The volume of landline calls went down by 10 percent, the total drop in voice-call five percent of the volume.

The fall comes despite the fact that the average cost of producing a mobile voice call today is about the same as that of making a fixed-line calls. Ofcom noted that, for the first time, most of the volume of calls – 52 percent – came from the mobile.

Unsurprisingly, the shift away from voice appears to be led by teenagers and young adults. Ofcom said 96 percent of 16-24 year olds to use "some form of text-based application" every day to communicate with friends and family.

SMS is used by 90 per cent of this age group on a daily basis, and social networking by 73 percent. 67 percent only make calls on a daily basis the mobile phone and – according to Ofcom survey – only 63 percent talk face-to-face with friends and family every day.

"Our research shows that in just a few short years, new technology fundamentally changed the way we communicate," Ofcom research director James Thickett said in a statement. "Talking face to face or over the phone is no longer the most common way for us to interact with each other."

"In their place, newer forms of communication are emerging which do not require us to communicate with each other – especially in the younger age groups this trend is set to continue as technology advances and we move further into the digital age. "

Changing practices

Ofcom pointed out that the change is brought about by a "rapid increase in the ownership of Internet-connected devices". The average UK household now owns three types of Internet-enabled device (smartphone and laptop, for example) and 15 percent have six or more such gadgets.

One in 10 adults have an e-readers and now 39 percent owner of a smartphone – 12 percentage points over the previous year. Ofcom pointed out that this rise is accompanied by a drop in the use of PC and laptop for activities such as watching video clips and sending messages.

"In general, the time spent using the Internet to mobile devices by minutes (24.7 percent) year on year, with total volume of mobile data consumed doubling in 18 months in January 2012," the regulator mentioned.

Tablets seem to be taking off, Choosing from Ofcom number – two percent of United Kingdom households have one in early 2011, but 11 percent were toting tablets a year later. Entertainment is the most popular use for the device, followed by email and social networking. Many users indicated they spend more time on social networking, now that they have a tablet.

Ofcom report also contains some statistics about broadband. The number of fixed broadband connections passed the 20 million in 2011, and the number of mobile broadband connections has passed 5,000,000. In total, 76 percent of homes in the United Kingdom is hooked up to broadband connection of some kind.

However, a fall in wholesale revenues meant total telecoms revenue of the United Kingdom telecoms were down 1.9 percent over the previous year.

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