Wales becoming an upwardly mobile nation

Nearly a quarter of homes in Wales are shunning the traditional landline and using only mobile phones to make and receive phone calls at home, according to Ofcom research published today.

Twenty-three per cent of households in Wales are mobile-only, significantly more than the UK average of 15 per cent. This is up from 20 per cent last year.

Adults in Cardiff are less likely than those in other parts of Wales to use their landline. This may be due to a higher take-up of internet-enabled mobile devices in Cardiff, with 61% of adults owning one, compared with 42% across the whole of Wales.

Smartphone ownership has also continued to increase in Wales over the past year, with over half (54%) of people now owning a smartphone, a 12 percentage point increase compared to last year. Rural Wales also saw the UK’s biggest increase in smartphone take-up, a 15 percentage point increase on 2012 (from 33% to 48%).

In addition to key findings relating to the take-up and use of communications services in Wales, Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for Wales 2013 also looks at the use of and attitudes towards government services online (e-government); consumers’ use of the internet to make purchases (e-commerce); users’ experience of mobile phone quality of service; and the effect of communications infrastructure availability on Cardiff and Bangor.

The research finds that while next generation broadband access is now available to over 90% of premises in Cardiff, 10% of premises cannot connect to a service that exceeds 2 Mbit/s. Bangor also has reasonably high next generation broadband availability and recently became one of the first areas to benefit from the Superfast Cymru project, the Welsh Government’s partnership with BT to deliver superfast broadband to 96% of Welsh households by 2016.

Bangor also has a very high number of wifi hotspots with 14.1 (per 10,000 population), double that of Cardiff (7.1) and more than double that for the average of the 11 cities researched (6.2).

Rhodri Williams, Ofcom’s Director for Wales, said: “In today’s Wales, connectivity matters because of the increasing integration of digital communications within daily life – for consumers, citizens and businesses.

“Wales remains at the forefront when it comes to mobile-only homes and it is encouraging to see rural Wales leading the way in smartphone ownership, a trend set to continue with the imminent rollout of 4G services across the UK. 4G services will mean faster mobile broadband speeds, greater innovation, new investment and better coverage across Wales with at least 95% of the population of Wales receiving an indoor 4G coverage by the end of 2017 at the latest. This will mean that 4G coverage will extend beyond that of existing 3G services.”

Ian Clarke, Chairman of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Wales (ACW), said: “This year’s Communications Market Report for Wales suggests an increasing preference for mobile telecommunications, with higher levels of mobile-only homes and smartphone ownership in Wales; and lower levels of fixed line broadband take-up compared with the UK average. It will be crucial to ensure that the UK Government’s Mobile Infrastructure Project and forthcoming rollout of 4G services serve to support this trend and ensure that all of Wales’ residents can access the next generation of mobile services, regardless of location.

“It is also encouraging to see that the volume of originated networked TV productions in Wales increased in 2012. The ACW would welcome further progress in this area and we will continue to campaign for all public service broadcasters to adequately reflect the different viewpoints and cultural diversity of Wales through their network productions.”