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Brits love their phones, but spend less than ten years ago

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Ofcom's annual report on the state of the UK communications market shows we are all doing more with our phones and tellies but we're not spending any more doing it.

Despite the fact that almost a third of UK adults now have a smartphone, or that 93 per cent of us are connecting to the internet over broadband while watching our HDTVs, the total amount of revenue generated by the communication industry hasn't gone up in the last decade.

Total revenue across the industry in 2010 was £52.4bn, almost identical to Ofcom's (inflation adjusted) figure of £54.3 for 2000. That includes everything Ofcom regulates – from daytime TV to subsidised iPhones – and there is a shift to mobile companies gaining revenue at the expense of the fixed suppliers, but overall the industry isn't growing as one might expect.

Smartphones are becoming addictive: 37 per cent of adults admit to some level of "addiction", a figure which rises to 60 per cent amongst teenagers. That seems largely driven by social networking, as the use of social networks from computers hasn't risen but smartphone owners are spending an average of 11 minutes a day keeping up with their mates.

But it's not all bad for the mobile network operators – smartphone owners do make more calls, and send more text messages, than owners of basic handsets. This was what drove network operators to subsidise smartphones in the first place, so it's nice to see the trend borne out even if it's mainly 'cos customers are moving onto long contracts in order to get the handset subsidy they want.

Convergence is also happening – more than half the country is now getting its communications services bundled.

TV viewing remains around four hours a day, increasing slightly on average, but kids are watching slightly less and now average 2.5 hours of viewing a day (spending more time on the phone) while old people watching a lot more (can't operate the phone). As long-term fans of TiVo, the figure that caught our eye was that owners of Digital Video Recorders still consume 86 per cent of their television live, which surprised us. Less surprising was the fact that only 125,000 3DTVs were sold during 2010 (1 per cent of those sold), while internet-connected goggle-boxes sold 10 times that.

The 341-page report is packed with similar facts and figures about how, and when, people use communications. The statistics have been gleaned from industry sources, and surveys, and serves as a useful reference for the entire industry. ®

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