Scottish people embracing smartphones faster than other UK nations

07 August 2014

People in Scotland are taking up smartphones at a faster rate than any other UK nation, according to Ofcom's Communications Market Report 2014.

Take-up has risen by 17 percentage points in a year to 62% in 2014, in line with the UK average of 61%.

The report also reveals the increasing popularity of the tablet computer in Scotland. By the beginning of 2014, 42% of households owned a tablet, such as an iPad or Kindle Fire, an 18 percentage point annual increase.

Broadband take-up rose by six percentage points in a year to 76% in 2014, just below the UK average of 77%.

The take-up of broadband in Glasgow has also increased year on year. The percentage of Glaswegians living in households with broadband (excluding mobile devices) is 63% and 66% if mobile devices are included. This compares to 50% and 54% respectively in Ofcom's 2013 Communications Market Report1.

Eight in 10 homes in Scotland now have internet access. Access increased by five percentage points year on year to come into line with the UK average (81%).

The use of mobiles to access the internet increased by 12 percentage points - the biggest increase of the UK nations bringing Scotland to 56% (UK at 57%).

This year's report also provides an insight into the media we consume. The Digital Day research shows consumers in Scotland spent the most time per day on media and communications among all the UK nations.

Respondents in Scotland recorded the highest volume of media and communications use, at 11 hours 41 minutes per day. This compared to the UK average of 11 hours 7 minutes of media and communications.

Internet users in Scotland claimed to spend 16 hours 30 minutes on the internet per week, slightly less than the UK average of 16 hours 54 minutes. However, this represented a significantly greater amount of time using the internet outside the home, workplace, or place of education than users in Wales or Northern Ireland.

Vicki Nash, Director of Ofcom (Scotland), said: "Scotland is now keeping up the rest of the UK in the take-up and use of communications services and devices and in fact in some areas we are ahead of the UK average. This is a marked change from the past when we were less prolific users".

TV and Radio Broadcasting

The Digital Day research shows TV viewing remains resilient in Scotland, where four in 10 media minutes are spent watching TV via a traditional TV set, rather than through online catch-up services.

People in Scotland spent 39% of their daily media and communications time watching TV on a TV set - marginally higher than the UK average of 37%. Ten per cent of media time was spent using a radio set, with use of this device being most popular in the morning period.

Of the three devolved nations, Scotland had the highest proportion of adults using the television to keep up with national Scottish news. In 2013, 80% of respondents cited television as their main source of national news.

BBC and STV spend on first-run originated content for viewers in Scotland has remained stable at around £52m per year over the last four years.

Scottish network TV productions accounted for 5.9% of spending on original network programming in 2013, up from 4.4% in the previous year.

Network production hours in Scotland increased from 1.8% of all originated network production hours in 2008 to 8.4% in 2013.

More than four in 10 households in Scotland now have a DAB digital radio set. There has been an increase of 14 percentage points since 2013, with 43% of households now owning a DAB radio. This brings Scotland into line with the UK average of 44%.

How tech savvy are you?

A 'millennium generation' of 14 and 15 year olds are the most technology-savvy in the UK, according to other new Ofcom research, which shows that after our teens our digital confidence begins a long decline.

Teens born at the turn of the millennium are unlikely to have known 'dial-up' internet and are the first generation to benefit from broadband and digital communications while growing up.

The research - part of Ofcom's eleventh Communications Market Report 2014 - measures confidence and knowledge of communications technology to calculate an individual's 'Digital Quotient' score, or 'DQ', with the average UK adult scoring 100.

Take our simplified Digital Quotient taster test to find out your score and get Ofcom advice on how to improve your understanding of communications services.

Other key findings for Scotland

Mobile. Mobile users in Scotland have higher expectations of their network's performance than users in the other nations. Networks are expected to perform best in outdoor urban areas (94%) and indoors (89% in-home and 80% in other indoor locations). Expectations on network performance when travelling and in rural outdoor areas are lower (59%).

The majority of mobile phone users are satisfied with their network. The majority of mobile phone users (82%) claim to be 'fairly' or 'very' satisfied with their current network, with those in urban areas being more satisfied than those in rural areas (85% vs. 68%).

Broadband in Glasgow. The areas of greatest deprivation were those where NGA broadband was least available. The most income- and education-deprived areas of the city also had the highest proportion of '<2Mbit/s' connections.

Post. Adults living in Scotland are more satisfied than those in the rest of the UK with the cost of postage. Eighty nine per cent of people in Scotland are satisfied with Royal Mail overall. This satisfaction is seen across all aspects of Royal Mail's service, in particular the cost of postage: 68% of adults in Scotland express satisfaction with this, compared to 55% across the whole of the UK.

Business. Eighty-two per cent of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland agree that communications services are fundamental to their business - this on a par with the average response from SMEs across the UK (83%). There are no significant differences by size or location.


  1. Ofcom's Communications Market Report provides an overview of communications services across Scotland and monitors key trends in the availability and take-up of digital services across the nation.
  2. We conducted a face-to-face survey of 3,750 respondents aged 16+ in the UK, with 501 interviews conducted in Scotland. Quotas were set and weighting applied to ensure that the sample was representative of the population of Scotland in terms of age, gender, socio-economic group and geographic location. Fieldwork took place in January and February 2014.
  3. Respondents were defined as urban if they lived in a settlement with a population of 2000 or more and rural if they lived in areas with smaller populations. The survey sample in Scotland has error margins of approximately +/- 3-4% at the 95% confidence level. In urban and rural areas survey error margins are approximately +/-4-6%.
  4. In addition to the survey data, this report refers to information from a range of other sources, including data provided to Ofcom by stakeholders. Tables summarising the data collected in our survey are published on Ofcom's website.

1 Changes to the British Population sampling profile explains some of the increase but Ofcom's analysis is one of genuine improvement.