Ofcom: UK mobile revenue fell 0.4% in 2015

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Ofcom said 71 per cent of all adults in the UK now own a smartphone.

Revenue from retail mobile services in the UK fell marginally by 0.4 per cent to £15.2 billion (€18 billion/$20 billion) in 2015, in contrast to average annual growth of 0.1 per cent in the preceding five years.

In its latest Communications Market Report, UK regulator Ofcom noted that the change in the revenue trend was primarily because “one of the main operators” redefined how it reports bundled and out-of-bundle revenues in 2015, making it impossible to make like-for-like comparisons with previous years.

Total telecoms revenue increased by 0.5 per cent to €37.5 billion, which was primarily due to a 4.2 per cent increase in retail fixed revenue during the year. That in turn was caused by a 12.6 per cent rise in fixed Internet revenues. The average monthly household spend on telecoms services increased by £2.52 (3.2 per cent) to £82.17 in real terms in 2015. This represented 3.5 per cent of total household spend, the same proportion as in 2014.

Although mobile retail revenue may have dipped slightly, UK consumers continued to show appetite for mobile devices and services. The total number of mobile subscriptions exceeded 90 million for the first time in 2015, reaching 91.5 million in total by the end of the year. This included handsets (79.3 million), mobile data connections such as dongles, and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.

Of the total mobile connections, more than 45 per cent were for a 4G service in the last quarter of 2015. That means 39.5 million mobile connections could access 4G services by the end of last year. Ofcom noted that 4G mobile services are now available to 97.8 per cent of UK premises, and added that 71 per cent of all adults now own a smartphone.

A further noticeable trend on the UK market is the purchase of services in a bundle. In the first six months of 2016, nearly seven in 10 households (68 per cent) said they bought at least two of their communications services together in a bundle, up from 63 per cent in the previous year. Dual-play packages of landline and broadband, and triple-play packages of landline, broadband and TV, are currently the preferred options.

However, Strategy Analytics said in a report this week that it expects revenue from quad-play bundles -- which also include mobile services -- to triple from 2015 to 2020 in the UK market.

The Ofcom report also made some interesting observations about the social impact of growing smartphone use. Its findings showed that four in 10 adults felt as though a friend or relative ignored them at least once a week, “because they are engrossed in their smartphone”.

That could also partly explain why some users are increasingly attempting a “digital detox” to reduce time spent online. The Ofcom report found that a third (34 per cent) of Internet users had tried a digital detox at least once, while one in 10 said they had done so in the last week.

For more:
- see this Ofcom report

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