The Communications Market Report: United Kingdom

06 August 2015

The UK is now a "smartphone society"

The Communications Market Report 2015  PDF, 4.4 MB PDF, 4.4 MB

Introduction and key points PDF, 131.2 KB

Glossary and table of figures PDF, 199.3 KB

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online, Ofcom research has revealed, with record ownership and use transforming the way we communicate.

Two thirds of people now own a smartphone, using it for nearly two hours every day to browse the internet, access social media, bank and shop online.

Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report finds that a third (33%) of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online, compared to 30% who are still sticking with their laptop.

The rise in smartphone surfing marks a clear shift since 2014, when just 22% turned to their phone first, and 40% preferred their laptop.

Smartphones have become the hub of our daily lives and are now in the pockets of two thirds (66%) of UK adults, up from 39% in 2012.

The vast majority (90%) of 16-24 year olds own one; but 55-64 year olds are also joining the smartphone revolution, with ownership in this age group more than doubling since 2012, from 19% to 50%.

The surge is being driven by the increasing take-up of 4G mobile broadband, providing faster online access. During 2014, 4G subscriptions have leapt from 2.7 million to 23.6 million by the end of 2014.

We now spend almost twice as long online with our smartphones than on laptops and personal computers.

On average, adult mobile users spent nearly two hours online each day using a smartphone in March 2015 (1 hour and 54 minutes), compared to just over an hour on laptops and PCs (1 hour and nine minutes).

But this is still only half of the 3 hours and 40 minutes we spend in front of the TV each day.

Download this section PDF, 900.2 KB


The UK TV industry generated £13.2bn in revenue in 2014, an increase of 3.1% year on year.

Over 90% (92%) watch TV each week, down slightly from 93% in 2013.

Among adults, the TV is the device people say they would miss the most, cited by close to four in ten (37%).

Over half  (56%) of UK homes had a TV connected to the internet, either via a set-top box or a smart TV, by the end of 2014.

Download this section PDF, 618.9 KB

Total industry revenue and spending increased by 3.6% to £1.2bn in 2014.

Some 89.5% tuned into the radio in 2014 and spent just over three hours listening each day.

Digital listening accounts for 39.6% of all radio listening, up by 2.8 percentage points year on year.

332 local radio stations, 227 community radio stations and 8 UK-wide radio stations were broadcasting on analogue in May 2015. There were 25 UK-wide stations on DAB.

Download this section PDF, 503.0 KB

Over half of UK households (54%) now have a tablet

Internet users aged 16 and above spent over 20 hours and 30 minutes online each week in 2014.

Almost eight in ten households now have fixed broadband access at home - an increase of 5 percentage points since 2014.

More than seven in ten online adults have a social networking profile.

Download this section PDF, 359.5 KB

Almost four in five households now have fixed broadband and around one in three of those are superfast lines delivering broadband speeds of 30Mbit/s or above.

By May 2015, 83% of UK premises were able to receive superfast broadband.

There are 23.6m 4G subscriptions in the UK, 28% of mobile subscriptions, compared to just 3% (2.7m) at the end of 2013.

Download this section PDF, 517.7 KB

Revenue for addressed letter mail grew by 0.4% during the year, to £4.3bn.

UK adults said they sent six letters, cards or parcels in an average month, slightly down on 2013.

They received an average of 8.5 letters, cards or parcels in an average week.

Almost a quarter of consumers (23%) said they sent no items of post over the past month.

Download this section PDF, 215.9 KB

See all of our Communications Market Reports