The 2014 Communications Market Report from Ofcom indicates that at the end of March 2014 there were around six million 4G mobile subscriptions in the UK, which works out at 8% of all active subscriptions. This is a huge increase from the previous year’s report which showed that EE, the only provider of 4G at the time, had just 300,000 4G subscription, less than 0.5% of all UK mobile subscriptions.
The Ofcom report also looked at 4G coverage across the UK and unsurprisingly indicated that in June 2014, EE had the largest UK network footprint. It states that 73% of UK premises are in areas that benefit from outdoor 4G coverage from EE. The second largest provider is Telefonica (O2) which covers 41% and then Vodafone with 36%. At the time of the report Three had not published population coverage figures but claimed that coverage was available in 36 towns and cities.
The report shows that 4G users tend to use more data than 3G users due to the faster download speeds available on 4G. It indicates that 4G users are more likely to access video content than non-4G users (59% compared with 41%) and that they are also more likely to use their 4G devices to shop online.
Other key highlights from the Ofcom report include:
- A third of adults say they know a lot about 4G services, while half say they are knowledgeable about super-fast broadband services.
- Six in ten adults (61%) now claim to own a smartphone, a 10% increase from 2013 when just over half (51%) owned one. This is almost equal to the ownership of laptop computers which is reported by 63% of adults.
- More people are using their mobile device to access the internet, with 57% reporting that they personally go online using their mobile phone, up from 49% in 2013.
- UK adults spend more time each day engaged in media or communication activities than they do sleeping! The average adult sleeps for 8 hours 21 minutes a day, and spends 8 hours 41 minutes on media activities.
- Media multi-tasking is becoming more common with, on average, 11 hours’ worth of media activity squeezed into 8 hours 41 minutes. 99% of adults report conducting two or more media activities at the same time at some point during the week – most commonly watching TV while making voice calls.
- More than four in ten households (44%) now have a tablet computer compared with less than a quarter (24%) the previous year. 60% of children aged 6-11 claim to use tablets each week, compared with 38% of adults.
- A quarter of all time spent on media activities by 16-24 year olds is spent on mobile phones, showing that mobiles are central to their lives. On average this age group spends 216 minutes a day on their mobile phones.
- A quarter of mobile internet users purchase goods or services on their mobile handsets, and a similar proportion use their mobile devices to find store locations, compare prices, and research products. One in ten mobile shoppers claim to spend more than £300 per month using mobile devices.
- One in five mobile internet users accessed online news via their mobile device almost every day in March 2014, with a further 17% claiming to do so at least once a week. The BBC has the largest audience for mobile news.