The Ofcom Communications Market Report for 2015 has been released and it contains a huge number of important statistics for digital marketers. 

The primary finding of the report is that the UK is now a mobile society, perhaps the world’s most mobile society.

Smartphone uptake has increased again in 2014 and 93% of UK adults said they had a mobile phone in the first quarter of 2015.

Of these, 71% said they had a smartphone; 66% of the adult population. This has increased by 27 percentage points since 2012. 

4G adoption

In 2014, 4G adoption/availability increased massively.

Almost a third (30%) of UK adults say they now have access to 4G. This equates to 45% of UK smartphone users, an increase of 28 percentage points since 2014. 


4G users tend to be much more active in using data services.

57% of 4G users access audio-visual content on their smartphones compared to 40% of those without 4G access.

There is a similar difference when considering audio activities with 47% of 4G users accessing this type of content on their smartphone, compared to 28% of those without 4G access.

4G users are more likely to use their smartphones for online banking (55% vs. 33% of those without 4G) and making online purchases (55% vs. 35%).

Connected devices

With the increase in smartphone usage, mobile devices have become more personal and more important to us.

When respondents were asked which was their most important device for connecting to the internet (at home or elsewhere), 33% of internet users mentioned their smartphone, and 30% mentioned their laptop. 

Among smartphone users this change was more pronounced. 42% cited this as their most important device for connecting to the internet, compared with 26% who cited a laptop.

This is a change since 2014, when smartphone users were more likely to cite a laptop than a smartphone.

Most-missed devices

Ofcom separated adults by age and asked what device they would miss most.

Among adults as a whole, the TV set is the device people say they would miss the most, cited by almost four in 10 (37%). This differs significantly by age, from 17% of 16-24 year olds to 68% of those aged 75+. 

Those aged 16-24 are much more likely to cite the mobile phone, at 59%, compared to just 2% of those aged 75+.

The youngest age group has the highest proportion citing games consoles, at 7%, although this is their fourth preference, behind the mobile phone (59%), TV set (17%), and PC/laptop (11%).

Tablet ownership

There has been another large increase in tablet ownership across the UK.

More than half of all households now own a tablet, up from 44% in 2014, a rise of ten percentage points.

Households in Wales are most likely to own a tablet (60%), up from 45% in 2014, followed by England (54%), Northern Ireland (54%) and Scotland (52%).

Superfast broadband adoption

It’s important to remember that digital behaviours have been enabled by superfast infrastructure.

The proportion of premises able to receive superfast broadband services (30Mbit/s or higher) is highest in England (84%), followed by Wales (79%), Northern Ireland (77%), and Scotland (73%).

The proportion of premises able to receive superfast broadband services (defined as those with an actual speed of 30Mbit/s or higher) is highest in England (84%), followed by Wales (79%), Northern Ireland (77%), and Scotland (73%).

Across the UK and in each of the nations, superfast broadband availability is considerably higher in urban than in rural areas. Broadband take-up (at home) is highest in England at 81%, followed by Wales (78%), Scotland (73%) and Northern Ireland (72%).

Total internet access at home (on any device) is highest in Wales and England (both at 86%), followed by Northern Ireland (79%) and Scotland (78%).

Over the coming days we’ll be posting more detailed analyses of what marketers can takeaway from the report. Stay tuned!

The full report can be found here: Ofcom Communications Market Report for 2015.

James Ellis

Published 10 August, 2015 by James Ellis

James Ellis is a Research Analyst at Econsultancy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

The "Household take-up of digital communications" chart says it all:
The winners are flat devices playing streaming content, so that's what you should buy for Christmas: phones, tablets and TVs.

DVD players, games consoles, DAB radio, and MP3 players are slowly on their way back down to niche status.

about 3 years ago


Dan Ford, Web Analyst at Bournemouth University

I note that the data relating to mobile use is based around the amount of time spent on the Internet and peoples' perceived importance of different devices, rather than the breakdown of users on different devices (i.e. what proportion of website visits/users are on desktop/mobile/tablet), so I wonder how accurate it is when they say that “smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online.”

Is this sort of data accurately available anywhere on an Internet-wide basis?

about 3 years ago

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