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Ofcom Reveals Key UK Mobile Calling and Data Usage Trends

Thursday, Oct 10th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 2,894

Ofcom and benchmark firm P3 have examined a sample size of 150,000 UK mobile users, which revealed that people in Liverpool make the longest calls (average duration of 6 mins 51 seconds) and more than half of us (60%) use less than “1 gigabit (GB)” – we think they meant GigaByte – of mobile broadband data a month.

The new research shows that UK mobile users spend most of their time online connected to Wi-Fi (69%), rather than using 3G or 4G, which is likely to be a reflection of the fact that we all spend most of our time at home or in an office where WiFi is likely to be the default way of connecting to the internet (helping to preserve precious data allowances).

Naturally mobile data use peaks between 5pm and 6pm, as rush-hour commuters look to catch-up with the latest news and scroll social media using their phone network. When people are using their mobile data, they are mainly connected to 4G (82% of time) and 4G users are generally able to get online whenever they attempt to (98.8% of the time).

All of this helps explain why 60% of us use less than 1 GigaByte of mobile data a month and only 10% use 5GB or more. By comparison Three UK, which is known to be one of the most data hungry mobile operators, recently claimed that data usage on their network in July 2019 was a whopping 10.4GB per month versus Ofcom’s most recently reported UK average of 2.9GB.

Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, said:

“People use their mobile in different ways around the country. But whether it’s for going online or having longer chats, a good signal has never been more important.”

We strongly suspect that mobile broadband data usage will now increase at a more rapid pace, which is down to the launch of both ultrafast 5G networks and the fact that O2, Vodafone and EE have all now launched unlimited data plans of their own.

Mobile Calling Trends

Ofcom claims that, unlike on fixed phone lines, the “number of minutes people spend on mobile calls has risen steadily in recent years“. For example, UK fixed telephony lines generated 10.3 billion minutes of outgoing calls in Q1 2019, down by 2.7 billion minutes (21%) compared to Q1 2018. However, the regulator’s most recent data also states that the number of mobile voice calls was 40.0 billion in Q1 2019, which is down 0.4 billion (0.9%) from a year previously.

Nevertheless Ofcom’s new research reveals that a quarter of people made less than five mobile calls a month, with 6% of people not making any standard mobile calls at all. Of those who did pick up the phone, almost two-thirds (60%) ended the call in less than 90 seconds. The regulator then compared how long people in 10 major UK cities spend on conversations from their mobile. Liverpudlians came top.

Average Call Duration by Top 10 UK City (minutes:seconds)
1. Liverpool 6:51 mins
2. London 4:49 mins
3. Leeds 4:41 mins
4. Birmingham 4:14 mins
5. Edinburgh 4:04 mins
6. Manchester 3:41 mins
7. Bristol 3:35 mins
8. Sheffield 3:34 mins
9. Cardiff 3:31 mins
10. Bradford 3:15 mins

The full Mobile Matters report should be uploaded sometime later this morning.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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