Mobile internet use grows in Scotland, finds media report

THE use of mobile phones to access the internet has grown faster in Scotland than any other UK nation over the last year, according broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Says Ofcom – in its annual Communications Market Report: Scotland report – the proportion of those in Scotland that “access the web on their mobile was 44 per cent in 2013, an increase of 13 percentage points on last year”. Mobile phone users in Scotland also reported greater use of online activities than the UK average for visiting websites (50 per cent compared to 39 per cent), accessing email (45 per cent compared to 37 per cent), and social networking (44 per cent compared to 37 per cent).

In a media release, Ofcom says: “This increase has been partly driven by the rise in smartphone ownership in Scotland: up 13 percentage points to 45 per cent of adults, but still below the UK average of 51 per cent. But Scotland has the highest satisfaction levels for connecting to the internet via a mobile network. Ninety-three per cent were satisfied with their ability to do so, compared to the UK average of 88 per cent. Overall, the research shows that Scotland is starting to catch up in the mobile market. A seven percentage point rise in take-up brings mobile ownership to 92 per cent and use of pay-monthly mobiles to 58 per cent – levels comparable with the UK averages.

“A quarter of households in Scotland also now own a tablet computer with take-up more than doubling, from 11 per cent to 24 per cent, equal to the UK average. Those in Scotland most likely to have purchased a tablet are aged 35-54 (43 per cent of whom had one in their household) and from higher-income households (40 per cent of those with an annual household income of £17,500 and above).

“The report also found home broadband take-up in Scotland increased from 68 per cent in 2012 to 70 per cent in 2013, continuing the upward trend from 2011, though below the UK average of 75 per cent.

“In Glasgow, data from both the British Population Survey (BPS) and Ofcom’s own research showed that broadband penetration has remained static. The BPS data for the City of Glasgow shows 50 per cent of households had fixed broadband, the same figure as 2011.

“Broadband customers in Scotland claimed to spend the most time online than in other devolved nations. At 18.3 hours per week, this is higher than Wales and Northern Ireland, and the UK average of 16.8 hours per week. Internet users in Scotland also report higher weekly use than the UK average of instant messaging and chat rooms (37 per cent compared to 27 per cent) and social networking (66 per cent compared to 55 per cent).

“Three-quarters of households in Scotland (76 per cent) had access to the internet in 2013 by using broadband, mobile phone or narrowband internet. This figure increased six percentage points year-on-year and is slightly lower than the UK average of 80 per cent.”

Elsewhere, Digital Terrestrial Television (such as Freeview) is the most widely-used TV platform in Scotland. Forty-three per cent of all TV households now use the service. In 2011, satellite television had a higher penetration, with 44 per cent of all TV households taking this service.

The combined share of the five main PSB channels in 2012 declined by ten percentage points to 53 per cent in Scotland. This reduction was slightly less than the average decrease across the UK (11 percentage points).

BBC One’s and STV’s early evening news bulletins attracted greater share in Scotland than in the UK; an average 30 per cent share of TV viewing – marginally higher than the UK at 28 per cent.

Also, over the five years from 2007 to 2012, Scotland bucked the trend for spend on current affairs output. Over that period, the spend on current affairs by the BBC and STV increased by six per cent against a 28 per cent decline for the UK as a whole. Scotland was the only nation to show an increase over this period.

Among all the UK nations, Scotland has the lowest reach for radio. Radio services reached 86.7 per cent of the adult population in Scotland, compared to the UK average of 89.5 per cent.

Local commercial stations are more popular in Scotland than in other nations. In 2012, they accounted for a 38 per cent share of all listening hours in Scotland;higher for this sector than in any other UK nation and the UK as a whole where local commercial share is 30 per cent.

Commercial radio revenue per head of population was highest in Scotland. The revenues generated by local commercial radio stations in Scotland reached £40.6 million in 2012. Adjusting for population size, Scotland has the largest revenue per head of the UK nations, at £7.72.

The report continues: “Huge growth in take-up of smartphones and tablets is creating a nation of media multi-taskers, transforming the traditional living room of our parents and grandparents into a digital media hub.

“Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2013 reveals that people are still coming together to watch TV in the living room – 91 per cent of UK adults view TV on the main set each week, up from 88 per cent in 2002. However, an increasing array of digital media are now vying for their attention. People are streaming videos, firing off instant messages and updating their social media status – all while watching more TV than before.

“These activities are mostly carried out using smartphones, with over half of adults (51 per cent) now owning these devices, almost double the proportion two years ago (27 per cent).

“At the same time, tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year, rising from 11 per cent of homes to 24 per cent. The average household now owns more than three types of internet-enabled device, with one in five owning six or more.”

Read more from the report in upcoming The Media in Figures, starting tomorrow.