Scotland becomes a ‘smartphone society’

Via Ofcom

Aug 6, 2015

Scotland becomes a ‘smartphone society’

06 August 2015

Smartphones are now the most popular device for getting online in Scotland, Ofcom reveals today, with record ownership and usage turning Scotland into a ‘smartphone society’.

Nearly four in ten (37%) internet users in Scotland cite smartphones as the most important device for accessing the internet in Scotland, compared to 26% for their laptop.

Since 2014, smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most important device in Scotland for internet access. In that year, 45% rated the laptop as most important, compared to 21% for the smartphone.

Half of internet users aged 16-34 (50%) and almost half (45%) aged 35-54 say a smartphone is the most important device for going online.

Smartphone ownership in Scotland increased slightly by one percentage point since 2014, with about six in ten adults owning one (63%) compared to the UK average of 66%.

However, take-up of a 4G service among smartphone owners has risen by 25 percentage points between 2014 and 2015 to reach 55%, significantly higher than the UK average of 45%.

Scotland had the largest increase - 23 percentage points - in 4G availability among the UK nations in the year to June 2015. The proportion of premises in Scotland in areas with outdoor 4G mobile coverage was 79.7% in June 2015.

4G networks are still being rolled out, and Ofcom rules mean that at least one 4G network must provide coverage to at least 95% of the population of each of the UK nations by the end of 2017 at the latest.

The report also shows that, in the first quarter of 2015, almost nine in ten (89%) smartphone users in Scotland were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with their mobile network for connecting to the internet via 3G or 4G. This was higher among smartphone users in urban Scotland (92%) than in rural Scotland (73%).

Vicki Nash, Director, Ofcom (Scotland), said: “In last year’s Communications Market Report we found Scotland was becoming a more connected nation. There are clear signs of this continuing in 2015, with the increase in 4G service take-up being a particular highlight.” ****

The other device seeing a marked increase in take-up is the tablet computer. Half of adults in Scotland (52%) said they had one in the household, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2014 (42%).

Changes in viewing

The report shows people in Scotland are less likely to watch content on TV at the time it is transmitted, as catch-up viewing becomes increasingly popular.

Fewer people undertook traditional TV viewing in 2015 compared to the previous year in Scotland: 7% of respondents said they were doing this more, but 41% said they were doing so less, resulting in a net change of -34%.

The report also showed increases in new ways of viewing. There was a net gain of 36% for watching non-subscription catch-up (e.g. iPlayer), and 24% for watching content that had been personally recorded.

TV programming

Money spent on TV programmes for viewers in Scotland increased in 2014, according to the report.

Spending by the BBC and STV on programmes specifically for Scottish viewers increased by 29% from 2013 to reach £68.6m in 20141 . This was considerably higher than the 8% average increase in spending over the same period on programmes for the nations and regions across the UK.

Ofcom attributes the main reasons as coverage of exceptional events: the XX Commonwealth Games and the Scottish Independence Referendum.

The number of TV hours produced specifically for viewers in Scotland has increased by 57% since 2009, to 2,573 hours in 2014. This was the highest increase across the four UK nations over this period.


The report shows 73% of households in Scotland now have access to fixed and mobile broadband at home, and 59% of adults have online access through a mobile phone.

Take-up of fixed broadband in Glasgow continues to be lower than the UK average. It comes in at 62% compared to the UK figure of 78%. Overall internet access in Glasgow increased to 75%, up from 66% in the same Glasgow analysis last year when web-enabled mobile devices are included.

Attitudes to online communications

Two thirds (68%) of internet users in Scotland agree that ‘technology has changed the way they communicate’, and three fifths (58%) agree that new communication methods have ‘made their life easier’.

These new communication methods also bring some downsides. Around half of all adults online in Scotland (53%) agree that ‘being online interrupts face-to-face conversations with friends and family’.

Text messaging (73%) and email communications (73%) are the top two most common methods of contact on a weekly basis. However, meeting face to face (61%) and making voice calls (60%) are also used by a majority, alongside social media (60%). Instant messaging (50%) is also used by half of online adults in Scotland.

The report shows the overall preferred method of communication for people in Scotland is meeting people face to face - 69% preferring it for family and 66% for friends. This preference is consistent across all of the UK nations.

Over one in five people in Scotland are ‘hooked’ on social media. Ofcom asked people to indicate a number on a scale ranging from one to 10, with 10 indicating they were completely hooked. Overall, just over one in five adults (23%) in Scotland indicated a rating of between seven and 10.

Nearly half (46%) of Scots who take digital photos say they share their photos using social media. Many of these are likely to be ‘selfies’. Nearly a quarter (23%) of Scots, say they have ever taken a selfie, and 8% say they take selfies at least once a week.

Summary of other key findings for Scotland


  • Scottish productions accounted for 5.2% of spending on original TV network programming, down from 5.9% in the previous year, but 0.6pp up from 2010.
  • The proportion of first-run hours produced in Scotland dropped 0.9pp from the previous year to 7.5% in 2014. However, this is an increase of 2.9 percentage points since 2010.


  • People in Scotland spend more time than the UK average listening to commercial stations. Commercial stations accounted for almost half (48%) of all listening hours in Scotland in 2014. This is 5pp higher than the UK average and the highest share for commercial radio across the UK nations.
  • In 2014, revenue per head of population increased by 18 pence to £8.02. This is the highest among all of the UK nations. The total revenue generated by the local commercial radio sector in Scotland was £42.7m, a 2.3% increase on 2013.


  • Seventy-three per cent of premises in Scotland were able to receive superfast broadband services in June 2015. This was the lowest proportion among the UK nations.
  • Take-up of household fixed broadband is lower in Scotland than for the UK as a whole. Across the UK as a whole, 78% of homes had a fixed broadband connection of some description in Q1 2015, compared to 71% in Scotland.


  • Just under one in five households (17%) in Scotland are mobile-only. Seventeen per cent of households in Scotland used mobiles as their only form of telephony in Q1 2015, a similar level to that across the UK as a whole (15%).


  • Although fewer people in Scotland had sent a parcel than the UK average, two-thirds of adults in Scotland (63%) said that they had sent invitations and greeting cards in the past month.
  • Those in Scotland were more likely to have sent any item of personal mail, with three-quarters of adults having done so in the past month. This is higher than any other nation, and 5pp higher than the UK overall (70%).
  • Eighty six per cent of people in Scotland are ‘very’ or ‘quite’ satisfied with Royal Mail overall. Customers in Scotland reported the lowest level of most problems with Royal Mail compared to the other nations. Three in ten people in Scotland had experienced any problem with Royal Mail, far lower than the UK average of 44%.
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