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Mobile phone call volumes have dropped for the first time in 10 years, according to the annual JD Power survey.

The survey, of nearly 3,000 UK mobile phone users, found that pre-paid customers are making an average of 10 calls a week, falling from 14 last year. Contract customers average 27, down from 35 in 2006, but those customers are now sending 46 text messages every week, up from 32.

A lot of this is down to the wider adoption of text messaging for communications - once the preserve of the youth, people of all ages are now learning to abuse the English language in pursuit of squeezing meaning into 160 characters.

More worrying for the network operators is the amount customers are saving by using text. A pre-pay customer is now spending an average of £12.35 per month, down from £19.29 last year, and even contract customers have seen a 20 per cent drop in their bill (from £40.44 to £32.45).

Among pre-paid customers, those with O2 are spending the most, averaging £13.95 every month, while Virgin customers are only spending £10.90. Orange has the most spendthrift contract customers, averaging £37 a month, while Virgin is again the home of the cost-conscious at £26.50.

Despite falling incomes, the networks are still desperate to reduce churn rates. Forty-six per cent of contract customers have received some form of bribe for their loyalty, generally handset upgrades for those with contracts, and free credit for the pre-paid.

The survey notes that modern handsets offer such a range of entertainment there's little time to make phone calls - users are busy playing games, watching videos, and checking on their eBay auctions. ®

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