Saturday 10 December 2016

Social media and selfies have overtaken voice calls and texts as the main purpose for Irish phones - regulator

Published 10/12/2015 | 20:21

It is the first time that phones have become primarily used as online devices over traditional communication tools in Ireland.
It is the first time that phones have become primarily used as online devices over traditional communication tools in Ireland.

Social media and selfies have overtaken voice calls and text messages as the main purpose for Irish phones, according to new data from Ireland’s telecoms regulator.

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Comreg’s latest quarterly report shows that downloads and uploads, including photos to Instagram and Facebook, now takes up more traffic on Irish mobile phones than voice calls or text messages.

It is the first time that phones have become primarily used as online devices over traditional communication tools in Ireland.

According to the regulator, we are uploading and downloading over 1,000 gigabytes worth of selfies, web searches and videos per day, almost twice as much as the same time last year and a fourfold increase on the same period three years ago. It comes as use of services such as Whatsapp, Snapchat and Instagram has exploded in Ireland, overtaking SMS text messages twice over.

The number of SMS text messages Irish people are sending has fallen 10pc since last year, the Comreg figures show.

High end smartphones such as iPhones has tipped the balance of how we buy our handsets, with 49.3pc of our phones now bought on contract. Five years ago, 70pc of Irish phones were pre-paid.

And one in five Irish mobile connections are now 4G, according to the regulator.

The numbers also show that over one in five home broadband connections in Ireland now measures over 100Mbs, with 59pc of our broadband subscriptions over 30Mbs, a large rise for the majority of Irish home broadband users. Around a quarter of Irish broadband users still have speeds under 10Mbs.

However, Ireland remains below the EU average for broadband penetration at just 27.2pc per capita, putting us 15th out of 25 countries measured. And Ireland is the second most expensive broadband territory in a comparison of six EU countries carried out by the regulator. Despite this, four out of five Irish homes now have broadband, according to Comreg.

The figures also show that the average home downloaded 88GB per month, with Virgin customers downloading most, with 114GB per month. This compares to average mobile monthly downloads of just 2.5GB per month.

Landline usage for telephone calls fell sharply (7pc) with people continuing to move to mobiles (up 4.3pc) as the main means of voice communication.

The data shows that there are now almost four times as many mobile-to-mobile voice calls (2.3bn minutes quarterly) as there are landline-to-landline calls (610m minutes quarterly). And there are now 5.8m mobile subscriptions in Ireland compared to 1.86m fixed line subscriptions.

Despite this, landline and cable broadband subscriptions continue to rise in Ireland, up 4.4pc on last year to 1.3m accounts.

Broadcasting revenues in the country also fell (4.6pc) as Irish people continue to change the way they watch television online and on mobile devices.

Ireland remains one of the most expensive countries in Europe for landline calls, coming in as second most expensive in a comparison of six countries measured by Comreg. It costs €31.53 to make 60 calls (over 190 minutes) in Ireland compared to €20.43 in Denmark and €27.77 in Germany. However, Ireland is now on a par with the UK (€31.43) for landlines call costs. And it is the third cheapest country in the same comparison of six EU nations for business landline calls.

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