Published Thursday, 07 August 2014
Northern Ireland and Wales have the highest rate of tablet ownership in the UK. (© PA)
At 45%, Northern Ireland, along with Wales, has the highest rate of tablet ownership in the UK - up from 29% a year ago and 9% in 2012.
Smartphone ownership has risen from 45% to 55% in the past year, with the biggest increase among people in rural areas. Smartphones are most popular among young people (aged 16-34) while tablet computers are more popular with older users (35-54).
Linked to the take-up of these mobile devices is the number of people accessing the internet on the move, rising six percentage points in the past year to 51% and helped by significant improvements in 3G mobile coverage.
The proportion of premises in areas with outdoor coverage from all four national 3G networks has increased by 20.2 percentage points to 82.1% from a year ago, driven by significant investment by network providers.
Just a few years ago it was the norm to sit at a desk to go online but the rapid rise in smartphone ownership means that more than half of us now access the internet on the move.
James Stinson, Regulatory Affairs Manager at Ofcom NI
"Northern Ireland still ranks best in the UK for superfast broadband availability while there have been noticeable and welcome improvements in both 2G and 3G coverage over the last year," Mr Stinson added.
The Ofcom Communications Report gives an insight into how people use communications devices.
Social media continues to be popular, with more than half of internet users in Northern Ireland (58%) accessing Facebook, Twitter and similar services online, either at home or on the move. Sixty-eight per cent say they use the web for purchasing goods or services, up from 60% last year.
Northern Ireland has a higher level of pay-TV take-up. Two-thirds (67%) of homes have Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision or paid-for top-up services, compared with 62% for the UK as a whole.
The research also highlights the popularity of Republic of Ireland TV channels in Northern Ireland. Around one in four people watch RTÉ One every week, with smaller numbers watching RTÉ Two, TG4 and TV3.
Ownership of a DAB radio set has risen to almost a third (30%) of households. This is a year-on-year increase of six percentage points but take-up remains lowest in Northern Ireland within the UK.
The research also shows consumers in Northern Ireland spend almost as much time consuming media every day - 8 hours and 29 minutes - as they do sleeping.
Four and a half hours of this is spent watching television. However, consumers also spent the equivalent of 2 hours and 14 minutes communicating - by email, text, social networks, instant messaging and voice calls.
A further two hours a day were spent 'listening' to radio or other audio.
Significantly, consumers in Northern Ireland claim to spend more media time on their mobile phone (16%) compared to the UK as a whole (12%).
Other research carried out by Ofcom shows a 'millennium generation' of 14 and 15 year olds are the most technologically advanced people in the UK.
Teens born at the turn of the century are unlikely to have known 'dial up' internet and are the first generation to benefit fully from broadband and digital communications.
© UTV News