Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ofcom reports surge in mobile broadband

Ofcom's annual review, released today, reports that every day in 2007, the average consumer spent 7 hours and 9 minutes watching TV, on the phone, using the internet or using other services. Since 2002, mobile use has doubled and PC and laptop use has grown fourfold.

Key facts:

  • Communications industry revenue topped £51.2bn in 2007

  • Average households spend £93.63 per month on communications services

  • 87.2% have digital television

  • 80% of new TV sales are high-definition sets

  • 40% buy communications services in a bundled package

  • 44% of adults use text messaging every day

  • 36% of adults use the net every day

Source: Ofcom market review

The real surge, though, came in the use of mobile broadband after a big marketing push by mobile phone companies selling mobile broadband "dongles". Between February and June this year, monthly sales rose from 69,000 to 133,000 a month.

According to Ofcom figures, two million people say they have used mobile broadband via a dongle or similar device and three-quarters of them say they use it at home as well as on the move - further evidence that the mobile operators are beginning to compete with fixed-line businesses for broadband customers.

3 Mobile network recently put a figure of over half a million on the number of total dongles it has sold to date, accounting for around 16% of its total subscriber base.

Vodafone reported sales of 3.2 million across Europe by the end of June. While the company doesn't split out regional sales, market sources put U.K. mobile broadband sales to date at close to half a million as well.

T-Mobile has made a concerted push into mobile broadband in the past few months, and reported that its share of total dongle sales in June was around 27%, citing data provided by research firm GfK.

O2 and Orange were not able to provide figures for the number of dongles sold or their market share.

Over 80% of mobile broadband sales cited by Ofcom in the five months to June were on a contract basis, with typical contracts worth around £10 to £20 per month, about half the amount mobile operators get from their handset contract customers. Ofcom projects that if 3 million people in the U.K. took up mobile broadband in the next few years, it could generate around £540 million for the mobile industry.

You can read the full (365 page) Ofcom review here.

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