Ofcom publishes research on communications in the Nations and Regions of the UK
Ofcom today publishes its Communications Market Report for the Nations and Regions of the UK. Under Sections 2 and 3 of the Communications Act, 2003, Ofcom has a duty to secure a wide range of services to people living in the different parts of the UK.
The report, which forms part of Ofcom’s ongoing Communications Market research programme, examines availability, take-up and usage of internet, telecommunications and broadcasting services. It compares findings across Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the nine English Regions.
The research shows that Londoners spend the most on communications services. However, as a proportion of disposable income, London has one of the lowest spending levels and Northern Ireland and Wales are among the highest.
The report shows that availability, take-up and consumption of communications services are generally determined by social background and rural or urban differences. Satisfaction with electronic communications services is generally high across the different parts of the UK. However, the research reveals a number of areas where national or regional differences seem to affect availability, take-up and consumption.
KEY FINDINGS ACROSS THE UK
INTERNET AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
* Internet take-up (dial-up and broadband combined) in rural areas across the UK is higher than in urban areas. Urban areas have embraced broadband more quickly although rural areas are catching up.
* Levels of PC ownership, internet and broadband take-up (among internet households) in the Nations and Regions can vary by as much as 18 percentage points.
* BT data shows that 99.9% of premises in the UK are connected to a broadband enabled exchange. However, not all premises within these exchange areas are suitable for delivery of broadband services, particularly at higher speeds, due to local factors such as distance from the exchange.
* Approximately 97% of households in London are within 5km of the exchange. The figure for Northern Ireland is 74% and the UK average is 86%. Some 17% of UK households are within 2km of an exchange.
* Rollout of local loop unbundling (LLU) is occurring in urban areas first. UK wide, 44% of households and businesses are connected to an LLU-enabled exchange. Some 95% of London households and businesses are connected to an LLU-enabled exchange. The North West (63%) and both East and West Midlands (both at 49%) are next highest.
* Take-up of landlines in Scotland and Yorkshire and The Humber is lower than the UK average of 91%. In these areas, consumers rely more on mobile phones only for their calls.
* Across the UK, the number of texts sent exceeds the number of calls from mobile phones made per week, with people in Northern Ireland and the East Midlands sending the most texts. London is the only part of the UK where the number of mobile phone calls exceed texts.
* Wales and the North West of England have the highest take-up of digital television, both at 72%. London and Northern Ireland have the lowest levels of digital television take-up at 58% and 53% respectively.
* There are clear geographic differences in television viewing habits - people with digital TV in Scotland and the North East watch the most television in the UK (both at 28 hours per week) whereas those in London and Northern Ireland watch the least (at 23 hours per week).
* Programmes with a local flavour attract larger audiences in some parts of the UK – for example, Midsomer Murders in the West of England, Doc Martin in the South West of England, Heartbeat and Emmerdale in Yorkshire, Hogmanay Live in Scotland, Wales on Saturday in Wales, EastEnders in London and Coronation Street in the North West.
* Radio listening also varies geographically with the number of weekly hours spent listening to the radio highest in the South of England (at 26 hours per week) and lowest in the North East, Scotland and Wales (at 22, 23 and 23 hours respectively).
KEY FINDINGS IN THE NATIONS AND REGIONS
* Digital television has been widely adopted in Wales with higher than UK average take-up (72% compared with a 65% UK average). This is largely driven by higher satellite take-up.
* Despite the availability of a variety of sports programming on free-to-air television services, sport did not feature in the top ten programmes viewed across the UK in 2005. In Wales, however, four out of the top ten programmes were primarily rugby related.
* People in Wales rely more on mobile phones as their only means of making and receiving phone calls (13% compared with an 8% UK average). Mobile phone consumers in Wales are also more likely to use pre-pay mobile phones than the UK as a whole.
* A higher proportion (22%) of people in Scotland live within 2km of a broadband enabled exchange than the UK average (17%) and are therefore more likely to receive higher speed broadband services.
* The research indicates that people in Scotland rely more on mobile phones as the only means of making and receiving phone calls (11% compared with an 8% UK average).
* People in Scotland watch the most digital television in the UK at 22 hours per week.
* People in Northern Ireland send the most texts per week – 37 texts against a UK average of 28 texts – and listen to more hours of radio than the UK average.
* People in Northern Ireland rely more on mobile phones as the only means of making and receiving phone calls (12% compared with an 8% UK average).
* In Northern Ireland, with a high rural population, more people live further than 5km from a broadband enabled exchange than the UK average and are therefore less likely to receive higher speed broadband services (26% compared with a 14% UK average).
THE ENGLISH REGIONS
* The North West has the second highest percentage (63%) of households and businesses connected to a local loop unbundled telephone exchange in the UK, second only to London (95%).
* Digital terrestrial television availability is highest in the North West (94%) compared to a UK average of 73%.
* People in Yorkshire and The Humber rely more on mobile phones as the only means of making and receiving phone calls (16% compared with an 8% UK average).
Ofcom Chief Operating Officer Ed Richards said: “This is the first time that robust comparative data for the Nations and the English Regions has been brought together in this way. The analysis highlights a series of important challenges that will face industry, Ofcom and various tiers of government in the future.”
Ofcom is today also publishing supplementary reports for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the English Regions. The full text of all reports can be found at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/nations/
The Communications Market: Nations and Regions - Wales
This survey is part of Ofcom’s Communications Market series of reports. It examines availability, take-up and consumption of communications services across the UK, exploring how citizen and consumer interests are being met and how this picture varies by each of the nations and regions.
This report sets out the findings from the survey for Wales, setting them in the context with the UK as a whole and the other three nations ( England, Scotland and Northern Ireland). For the full findings of the survey, please refer to the main report The Communications Market: Nations and Regions.
We undertook this project to address stakeholder feedback that Ofcom’s work should take into consideration the differences between the nations and regions of the UK. The project is consistent with Ofcom’s duties to secure the availability of a wide range of electronic communications services throughout the UK, having regard to the different interests of people living in different parts of the UK and in rural and urban areas.
The survey considers the three basic communications platforms; telecoms (including telephone landlines and second and third generation mobile phones), internet (including broadband and high speed services) and digital broadcasting (including digital TV and radio). It explores the key patterns for these services as they apply to availability, take-up and consumption across the UK, amongst consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Most of the data in the report was collated from research undertaken in the second half of 2005, including Ofcom’s residential tracking study, the Media Literacy Audit and operator data for mobile phone, digital subscriber line ( DSL) and cable coverage.
This report should be seen in the context of a series of complementary research surveys to be published by Ofcom during 2006. These include the Media Literacy Audit, (the main report was published in March 2006 and the supplementary report on media literacy in the nations and regions is being published alongside this report), reports on consumer and SME engagement with digital services and the annual Communications Market report, (all to be published later in the year).
We believe that this report will provide a valuable resource for Ofcom, national, regional and local government and other stakeholders, to tailor their approach to national and regional differences in availability, take-up and consumption of communications services. A series of Rural, Regional and Remote seminars in the nations and regions will be held shortly after publication so they can be used as a forum for discussion of the research findings. Ofcom will then publish a final report which will assess the implications of the research findings on current and planned Ofcom work and, where appropriate, make recommendations.
It is our intention that the nations and regions survey should be repeated on a regular basis and supplemented, where appropriate, by further UK-wide research amongst ethnic minorities, disability groups and key age and social groups.
The full document is available below
* The Communications Market: Nations and Regions - Wales [pdf]
Full Print Version: see here
Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Wales head of digital TV league
TV remote controls
The switch to digital will take place in 2009
More people in Wales have taken up digital television than in any other part of the UK, according to research by communications watchdog Ofcom.
It found 72% of Welsh homes with digital TV, against 65% across the UK.
The research also highlighted the differences between digital TV watching habits in Wales and the UK generally.
In the UK overall, none of the top 10 programmes contained sport, whereas in Wales, four of the 10 were sport-related, and all about rugby.
The report also confirmed that Wales continues to have among the lowest home internet usage in the UK.
One of the factors behind this could be that fewer homes in Wales have landline telephones than in other areas.
The Welsh are far more likely, at 13% compared to an average 8%, to rely on mobile phones as their only means of making and receiving calls.
Top 10 programmes in Wales, 2005 (digital viewers)
2. Rugby Six Nations
3. Coronation Street
4. I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here
5. Rugby Build-Up
6. Wales on Saturday
7. Rugby Union
9. A Touch of Frost
10. Little Britain
But people in Wales primarily use the phones for emergency calls, and are more likely to use pre-paid mobiles.
Wales has the lowest mobile network coverage, with 79.8% of the country covered by all four networks, although 99.8% of the population can access at least one.
The report, The Communications Market: Nations and Regions, examined availability, take-up and usage of the internet, telecoms and broadcasting services. It sampled 4,426 adults across the UK, of whom 292 were from Wales.
Although digital TV take-up is high in Wales, the report noted that usage is mainly driven by higher than average satellite services.
Also, the proportion of homes receiving digital terrestrial television (DTT) via platforms such as Freeview is much lower than the UK average - 57% compared to 73%.
Rhodri Williams, director of Ofcom Wales
Everybody in Wales will have access to digital TV after switchover. Nobody who gets a quality picture at the moment is going to lose it
Rhodri Williams, Ofcom
With the switchover from analogue TV to digital in Wales scheduled for September 2009, there have been fears some viewers will be left behind.
However, Ofcom Wales director Rhodri Williams said the body set up to manage the switch, Digital UK, had the responsibility to ensure nobody would be unable to receive digital.
"Everybody in Wales will have access to digital TV after switchover. Nobody who gets a quality picture at the moment is going to lose it," he said.
The report noted that up to 204 relay transmitters in Wales needed to be converted to carry the DTT signal before switchover happened.
Although 59% of households in Wales have a personal computer, only 49% have internet access, and of that number, 54% use a broadband connection.
One aspect of the research focused on "media literacy". Welsh people were found to be less aware of internet issues and less internet literate than people in other parts of the country.
They were also more trusting of the medium, and more likely to give out personal information such as bank, credit card and mobile phone details.
Sue Balsom, the Ofcom content board's member for Wales, said knowledge of and access to communications services such as the internet were vital.
"If people don't know there is content there, and they can't find it, that raises huge citizenship questions," she said.
Annelise Berendt, Michael Philpott
Ofcom publishes Communications Market Report
Yesterday, UK regulator Ofcom published its Communications Market Report for the Nations and Regions of the UK, comparing the availability, take-up and usage of Internet, telecoms and broadcasting services across the country. Comment: The Internet statistics show two clear messages: the digital divide is still alive and kicking, and education is still the major barrier to greater adoption. Across all the UK regions, there is sizeable gap between the Internet adoption of the socio-demographic groups ABC1, and groups C2DE. The largest difference is in Northern Ireland, where 38% more people in the ABC1 group subscribe to an Internet service.
When asked why they had not yet acquired an Internet service as yet, a huge 81% of people stated 'no need/not interested' compared to only 18% who claimed it was too expensive and only 1% that did not have access to a PC and/or landline. This clearly shows that if this divide is to be closed, both service providers and government bodies should place greater emphasis on educating people on the benefits broadband Internet can provide.
On the broadcasting side, this is a timely reminder of the diverse make-up of the UK TV audience, whose local tastes vary along with propensity to try new technologies. Ofcom found that Wales and the North West of England have the highest take-up of digital television, both at 72%. London, in contrast, has one of the lowest levels of digital television take-up at 58%. If BT, which is set to launch its hybrid IPTV/DTT offering this autumn, is to "mop up" those who have not yet converted to digital TV - one potential target group for its service - then it would do well to look at these results closely when it comes to localised marketing campaigns.
The study also found geographic differences in TV viewing habits - people with digital TV in Scotland and the North East watch the most television in the UK (both at 28 hours per week) whereas those in London and Northern Ireland watch the least (at 23 hours per week). Furthermore, local content clearly counts - programmes with a local flavour were found to attract larger audiences in some parts of the UK. The tendency towards fragmented viewing patterns plays well to the strengths of IPTV and VoD services, but there will clearly be localised challenges in gaining consumer buy in to what is still a strange concept for some - getting TV from your telco provider.
Friday 28th April 2006
Digital divide splits Britain 10:29AM
The battle to broadband-enable the UK has largely been won according to a report by Ofcom. Almost every exchange in the country has been converted. Also, local loop unbundling is proceeding rapidly with almost half the country now able to choose an alternative supplier to BT.
After a battle that has lasted the best part of a decade, Ofcom now says that 99.9 per cent of domestic and business premises in the UK are connected to a broadband enabled exchange. There is a catch however. Not all premises within these exchange areas are suitable for delivery of broadband services, particularly at the higher speeds, due to local factors such as distance from the exchange.
Following another shaky start, local loop unbundling (LLU) is also picking up speed. Today, across the UK 44 per cent of households and businesses are connected to an LLU-enabled exchange. There are regional differences, though, with urban areas unbundled ahead of rural areas. Some 95 per cent of London households and businesses are connected to an LLU-enabled exchange with the North West at 63 per cent, and the East and West Midlands both at 49 per cent are next highest.
This tipping point for LLU will be good news for Carphone Warehouse, Bulldog, BSkyB and the host of other companies hoping to provide telephony, broadband and increasingly television services through the unbundled telephone
Given the pay rates in the capital its not surprising that Londoners spend the most on their communications services. However, as a proportion of disposable income, London has one of the lowest spending levels with Northern Ireland and Wales among the highest.
The survey also shows that the British have well exercised thumbs. On average the British send 28 texts per week and only 20 mobile phone calls. The findings were most pronounced in Northern Ireland where people send on average 37 texts per week. Only Londoners made more calls than texts.
However, before the urbanites get too smug, the report also reveals that Internet take-up (dial-up and broadband combined) in rural areas across the UK is actually higher than in urban areas.
Urban areas have embraced broadband more quickly although rural areas are catching up. Internet usage in rural areas covers 61 per cent of households compared with a national average of 57 per cent although only just over half have a broadband connection compared with a national average of 57 per cent. Partly this will be due to the fact that the urban areas were broadband-enabled first with rural areas only enabled some time later.
Cultural differences have made a difference to the development of digital Britain. For example, the biggest take up of digital television has been in Wales with a higher than UK average take-up of 72 per cent, compared with a 65 per cent UK average, largely driven by higher satellite take-up. The reason appears to be that while sport did not feature in the top ten programmes viewed across the UK in 2005, in Wales four out of the top ten programmes were rugby related.