August 10, 2015 : Sally Dyson

How smart is Scotland?

We're living in a smartphone society, according to Ofcom

Ofcom Communications Market Report 2015 received wide spread coverage last week.

Headlines were a variant on ‘The UK is now a smartphone society’.  Some focus on the use of smartphones overtaking laptops, others highlight how Superfast 4G is helping to change the way we live our lives (shop, bank and watch TV).

Is this fantastic news? It probably means that people are accessing the internet at a time and place convenient to them rather than a fixed place. Does it mean that more people are on the internet? I sadly suspect not, not yet at any rate. I suspect that it means that lots of people using smartphones are doing so in addition to another device such as a laptop, rather than people going online for the first time.  There is a huge job still to be done to reach out to people who aren’t accessing the internet at all.

Smartphones becoming the ‘device of choice’ also indicates at least some activities which have previously been the domain of PCs are becoming easier on mobile devices – through apps with simplified functionality and more responsive websites. This might be a lead to pursue to encourage people to use the internet.

This report tells us big changes are underway, I’ve listed some trends below or you can read the whole report here.

* 73% of premises in Scotland were able to receive superfast broadband services in May 2015. This was the lowest proportion among the UK nations

* Take-up of household fixed broadband is lower in Scotland than in the UK as a whole. Across the UK, 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 in Scotland are mobile-only

* Two-thirds of internet users in Scotland agree that technology has changed the way they communicate, and three-fifths say that new communications methods have made life easier

* People in Scotland said they spent more time online in 2014 (an average of 19.9 hours a week) than in 2013 (16.5 hours a week)

* Half of all adults in Scotland said they had a tablet computer in the household (52%), a 10pp increase since 2014 (42%)

* In terms of reach, Facebook is the most popular social media site, followed by YouTube.

* Following growth in previous years, smartphone take-up has remained at the same level in 2015 as in 2014 at around six in ten adults (63%), against 66% for the UK as a whole.

Analysis suggests that Scotland was ahead of the game in the use of tablet devices and smartphones.  We have still a way to go with fixed broadband rollout (if this is indeed the path we continue to take), the use of the internet of those online is increasing – will this help us in introducing people to the internet?  Not sure – but if those online are seeing an increasing benefit surely there is benefit on the internet for everyone – we have a job to do to help people understand what that is and have the skills and confidence to use the internet to their advantage.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Sally Dyson