The Communications Market Report: Northern Ireland

06 August 2015

Smartphones have become the most popular device for getting online in Northern Ireland.

They’re now in the pockets of nearly two thirds (63%) of Northern Ireland adults, up from 21% in 2011.

Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report finds that smartphones have overtaken the laptop as the preferred way for internet users to get online.

Some 37% say their smartphone is the most important device for staying connected, compared to 26% who are sticking with their laptop.

Elsewhere, this year’s report reveals another rise in tablet ownership in Northern Ireland - 54% of households now have one, up from just 2% in 2011.

There has also been a marked increase in the amount of time people in Northern Ireland claim to spend online, up from 13.8 hours a week to 21.6 hours a week . This is above the UK average and highest of the four UK nations.

Looking at the infrastructure used to deliver these services, the report shows that 77% of premises in Northern Ireland have access to superfast broadband services (>30Mbits/s), which is higher than Scotland but lower than Wales and England.

However, broadband take-up in Northern Ireland is below the UK average, with 72% of homes having a broadband connection (fixed and mobile), compared to 80% for the UK as a whole.

Meanwhile, latest figures show 4G mobile coverage from at least one operator was available to 91.1% of premises in Northern Ireland in May 2015. This was the second highest of the UK nations, behind England.

Jonathan Rose, Ofcom Northern Ireland Director, said: “Northern Ireland is becoming a nation of smartphone users, with these devices now overtaking the laptop as the preferred way of getting online.

“The continued expansion of 4G services should mean further growth in the year ahead, as consumers take advantage of new features and apps that exploit the increased speed offered by this technology.

“But it is apparent that not everyone has access to good broadband and mobile coverage. Ofcom wants to see the widest possible availability of communications services and is considering what further options might be available to improve coverage, both mobile and fixed-line broadband, as part of its Digital Communications Review.”

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People in Northern Ireland watched 3 hours 47 minutes of TV a day in 2014 - 15 minutes per day less than in 2013.

A third of all adults used catch-up services such as iPlayer, ITV Player and All 4 in 2015.

Seven in ten (71%) TV homes in Northern Ireland have pay TV - higher than the UK average (62%).

BBC and UTV spend on first-run originated content for viewers in Northern Ireland remained steady in 2014.

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The time spent listening to radio in Northern Ireland is higher than in the UK as a whole.

Analogue listening still accounts for seven in ten listening hours in Northern Ireland.

Local commercial radio is the most listened-to type of radio in Northern Ireland.

There are 35 DAB digital radio stations in Northern Ireland - but ownership of DAB radios is lower than in the UK as a whole.

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Eight in ten households in Northern Ireland (79%) had access to the internet in 2015.

Smartphone ownership in Northern Ireland grew to 63% of adults in 2015.

Over half (54%) of all households have a tablet computer, up by nine percentage points on 2014.

Internet users spent significantly more time online in 2014 (21.6 hours weekly) than they did in 2013 (13.8 hours).

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Broadband take-up in March 2015 was below the UK average (72% v 80%)

Text messaging is the most common weekly method of communication.

Over 91% of premises were in areas with outdoor 4G coverage in May 2015.

A quarter of adults in Northern Ireland have a 4G service.

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Adults in Northern Ireland claim to send 4.5 items of post per month on average, the lowest across the UK nations.

Half of adults in Northern Ireland think the cost of sending a letter to the Republic of Ireland is poor value for money

Nine in ten people in Northern Ireland are satisfied with Royal Mail.

Some 90% of businesses also say they are satisfied - the highest of all the nations.

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