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Mobile phone use within the EU is continuing to rise as reliance on fixed lines eases off, according to EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Use of mobile devices has surged in recent years, increasing almost 14-fold over the period between 1996 and 2005. In 1996, when mobile phones were less common and accessible than at present, there were on average only seven subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

According to the report, 13 member states had over 100 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2005, of which Ireland was one. The top five in the mobile charts were Luxembourg with 158 subscriptions per 100, Lithuania (127), Italy (122), the Czech Republic (115), and Portugal (111). Ireland had 103 subscription per 100 inhabitants. The lowest ratios were in Romania (62), Poland (76), France (77), and Bulgaria (80).

Fixed telephone lines fared less well than their mobile counterparts in terms of growth. In 1996, there were 43 lines per 100 inhabitants; this rose to 48 in 2005. It was also less clear cut about where the sector was moving, with 12 member states seeing the number of fixed lines fall over the period covered in the report, while 14 increased the number of lines, and one remained stable.

In 2005, Germany topped the charts for fixed lines with 67 per 100 inhabitants, Denmark followed with 61, and France and Sweden tied with 58. Romania had the fewest fixed lines per 100 inhabitants at 20 with Slovakia following close behind with 22, Lithuania (23). For its part Ireland had only 39 fixed lines per 100 people.

By 2006, telecoms trends had started to change, with nearly 20 per cent of households in 25 EU member states having a mobile phone but no fixed line.

This trend varies from country to country though. In Sweden, there were no households that relied solely on mobile phones, while other countries such as Finland were well ahead of the EU25 average at 47 per cent, as was Lithuania (48 per cent) and the Czech Republic (42 per cent). Irish users came in at the average, with 18 per cent of households forgoing the landline in favour of the mobile phone.

Irish mobile users were high up the list when it came to how long they spend chatting on their mobile phones in 2006. While Cyprus was top of the list with six minutes per day, followed by 5.3 minutes in Finland and 4.2 minutes in France, Irish users racked up 3.4 minutes mobile phone use per day. That's more than Germany (1.6 minutes), Poland (1.2 minutes) and even the UK (2.8 minutes).

© 2007 ENN

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