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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