Saturday, April 28, 2007

Europeans and telecommunications, internet and television

The European Commission regularly carries out public opinion surveys in order to keep abreast of the consumer side of the rapidly evolving telecommunications markets and the market for electronic communications networks and services. The results of the latest survey have been published now. Here is a snapshot of the results.

Practically all Europeans have access to a telephone at home but the type of access -fixed line vs. mobile phone – evolves rapidly.
- Almost all households in the EU27 (95%) are equipped with access to a telephone today.
- On average, most European households have both fixed and mobile telephone access (EU27: 58%, EU25: 60%).
- The level of use of mobile phones remains fairly stable (81% in EU27) while at the same time more and more households give up their fixed line. Consequently, the share of ‘mobile-only’ households is rising (+4 points) while the share of household with at least one fixed line decreases (-5 points).
- The type of phone access varies, however, greatly from country to country: Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands have the highest numbers of households with dual-access; the majority of households in Finland and the Czech Republic rely only on mobile telephony while relatively high shares of households in Bulgaria and Germany benefit only from fixed telephony.
- The main reasons to stay loyal either to a fixed line or to a mobile phone are broadly the same: either there is no need to switch because the current type of access is satisfactory or there is no willingness to change. Additionally, for many households, the reason for keeping their fixed line is still the internet connection (22%).
- 17% of Europeans who have an internet connection at home say that someone in their household uses the PC for making phone calls over the Internet. This proportion is twice as large in the new Member States.
- The use of public payphones is not widespread across Europe, with only 12% of respondents indicating that any of their household members use them.
- Traditional paper phone directories remain the most used type of telephone directory in the EU27 (75% of respondents use them at least sometimes).

Europe is becoming more computerised and the internet is more accessible to households with around a half of households benefiting from these utilities.
- The majority of European households (54% in EU27) have a computer, primarily a desktop computer (36%). 34% of EU27 households with internet access at home have a wifi router (+8 points compared to last year in EU25).
- An increase is observed in the overall internet penetration rate (+4 points in EU25). The share of households with internet access goes up in 22 countries, particularly in some new Member States (Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Malta).
- Broadband technology is rapidly conquering space (EU27: 28%, EU25: 29%, +6 points) from narrowband technology (EU27:12%, EU25: 13%, -3 points). Most households access internet via an ADSL line (EU27: 53% of households with broadband access, EU25: 54%, +4 points).
- The main reason for not having an internet connection is by far the lack of interest of the household members (45%).
- The main reason for not upgrading a narrowband connection to a broadband connection is the satisfaction with the speed of the current connection (26%). If households with narrowband connections were to get the broadband service together with fixed telephony without paying anymore for the monthly fixed telephony line rental charges, almost half of households would switch to broadband (47%).
- Over a quarter of households with internet access have suffered from significant problems caused by spam, viruses and spy ware. The main consequence appears to be a lowering in the functioning of the computer (40%) or even a breakdown (27%).
- Overall, a large majority of Europeans have installed on their computer antivirus software EU27: 81%) and antispam software (60%)
- EU27 citizens are in general satisfied with the quality of their internet services. Over a third, however, disagree with the statement that their internet connection never breaks down. Linked to this, 42% of respondents say that their Internet providers do not usually pre-announce their network connection cuts, with almost a quarter expressing this view very strongly.

Access to television is universal in Europe.
- Virtually all European households have a television (EU27/EU25: 97%). An overwhelming majority of households still have a standard television (92%). The share of households having a wide-screen television remains stable (21%), although significant increases are observed mainly in old Member States.
- Aerials remain the main means of reception but we can observe a decrease in their use (EU27: 45%, EU25: 47% -3 points). 35% of the EU27 households use cable television networks and 21% a satellite
- The way European households receive television differs strongly between countries: At the extremes one can observe that 99% of Greek households receive television via an aerial, more than 90% of Dutch and Belgian households via cable and 42% of German households via satellite.

- The use of service packages has increased slightly (EU27/EU25: 20%, +3 points), the most common combination being fixed telephony and internet access. Respondents are particularly satisfied with the fact that two services are invoiced at once and that the combined price is cheaper than that of two separate services.
- Familiarity with the European emergency number 112 as a common European emergency number varies widely between countries and depends greatly on national contexts. There is a 5-point increase in the awareness of it within the EU25. Familiarity with ‘112’ increased in many new Member States both in terms of its use as a common European emergency number and as a national emergency number.

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