News and Information – March 2010

Political

• Scotland’s Action Plan on Child Internet Safety

Scottish Government has launched an action plan and marketing campaign to improve the safety of children on the internet and prevent problems such as cyberbullying, internet fraud and online grooming. Launching the action plan, campaign and competition as part of EU Internet Safety Week, Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram, said: “The internet provides countless opportunities for learning and socialising but unfortunately there are malicious individuals and organisations who exploit the relative freedom which it provides. We want young people to enjoy the internet and that means helping them stay in control and ensuring they know what to do and who to go to if they feel at risk.”

Scotland’s Action Plan on Child Internet Safety sets out what is happening already in Scotland in this area and further actions to be taken, and builds on the content of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety’s (UKCCIS) Strategy.

• Peter Peacock Debate on Broadband

Peter Peacock secured a debate in Parliament on Broadband Availability in early March. The full report can be found here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-10/sor0203-02.htm#Col23425

The debate usefully highlights a number of the main issues regarding availability, rural access and the Scottish Government’s continued support for broadband infrastructure rollout. In the debate Peter Peacock calls for 100% rollout in Scotland regardless of any UK level targets.

• Citizen Engagement

As we approach a UK General Election thoughts are now turning to campaigning and the use of technology. Evaluations of the 2008 Obama election campaign suggest that at that time he had 3 million Facebook friends. One third of his under 30 followers turned to social networks to communicate about their politics and videos of Obama were watched online and easily forwarded at the click of a button.

The Hansard Society has recently published a new report entitled: Digital Citizens and Democratic Engagement, which provides an analysis of how citizens participate online. It states that those already online find it easier to participate as a result of this and suggests that they want online tools which allow them to participate and engage with politicians rather than having a passive, broadcast-only relationship with them.

• 70% of respondents agree that the internet makes it easier for them to participate in civic and political activities

• 49% agree that they would generally prefer to use the internet to participate in civic and political activities

• Age is not a barrier to digital engagement when it comes to contacting one’s elected representative

• People aged 55-64 are the age group most likely to contact their MP online (54% did so), and people aged 18-34 were more likely to use the telephone (including mobiles and texting) than any other age group

The full report can be found at: http://hansardsociety.org.uk/blogs/press_releases/archive/2010/02/10/digital-citizens-want-to-engage-with-politicians-feb-10-2010.aspx

Economic

• Ofcom Business Consumer Experience Report – Dec 2009

Business consumers account for 45% of total telecoms turnover. In total businesses spent £13.9bn on telecoms in 2008.Ofcom found that 90% of UK businesses have internet connections, which is similar to the proportion with fixed-line telephones. Mobile services are also important although only 75% of businesses directly owned or rented mobile devices (many others reimburse employees using their own phones). In 2008, 66% of businesses used the internet to interact with government and public bodies, an increase from 60.8% in 2007.

Of the businesses researched, half had experienced frustrations with their services. The main concerns were:

– Speed and reliability of internet and data services

– Mobile coverage

– Customer service issues

• Ofcom Consumer Experience Report – Dec 2009

(Please note the following information is UK wide)

Take up trends are mainly positive, with the exception of stabilisation of landline ownership.

– take-up of fixed-line services remains stable at 87%;

– the proportion of homes with mobile phones has increased from 91% to 93%,

and remains higher than the proportion with a fixed line;

– as last year, around one in ten consumers (13%) are relying solely on their

mobile for their telecoms needs;

– take-up of internet at home has significantly increased from last year (from 65%

to 73%), led by the rise in PC or laptop ownership (from 70% to 76%). This rise

has been experienced in all socio- economic and income groups and those aged

15-64. Similarly, use of the internet in any location has increased over the past

year (from 71% to 74%) of adults accessing the internet either at home or

elsewhere;

– there has been a continued upward trend in broadband connection across all

groups, and 96% of home internet connections are now via broadband;

– mobile broadband is now in 14% of households, driven by younger consumers.

– Forty one percent of those using mobile broadband consider it to be their main

method of internet connection at home;

– the proportion of broadband customers unaware of their connection speed has

continued to grow (from 55% to 64%);

– the proportion of customers aware that they have access to digital radio services

at home has increased from 39% to 48%;

– digital TV ownership continues to rise (from 88% to 90%). Satellite is the most

popular TV service among those aged 25-44 years, while Freeview is more

popular among those aged 45+.

Social

• Social Networking – Facebook

Facebook continues to attract people of all ages and backgrounds to its service and the statistics on its popularity make interesting reading. 350 million people worldwide hold a Facebook account. If this were to be expressed as a population – Facebook would be the third largest country in the world, trailing only China and India in size. 23 million people in the UK are on Facebook with Sunderland being the UK capital. Average use in Sunderland is 1 hour per day. More than half of Facebook’s UK audiences are classed as ‘heavy users’.

• BBC Web Behaviour Study

The BBC’s Virtual Revolution programme is running a comprehensive web behaviour study to assess the impact of some of this technology on our brains and the way we think. You can take part in the study at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/vitrualrevolution/

Technological

• Ofcom Telecommunications Market Data Tables

Ofcom regularly publishes data that it collects from telecoms operators. You can find it on their website under ‘Research’. The most recent data is from Q3 2009 and shows that:

Fixed voice

– Total fixed line revenues were £2.21 bn in Q3 2009, down 2.8% on Q3 2008

– At 33.2 billion minutes , total fixed call revenues were 5.7% lower than the corresponding quarter in 2008

– The total number of fixed lines (including ISDN channels) fell by 117k (0.4%)to 32.7 million, 588k less than a year earlier

Fixed broadband

– The total number of residential and SME broadband connections grew by 195k (1.1%) to 17.9 million during the quarter, up from 16.9 million a year previously

– BT Retail remained the largest UK residential and SME broadband provider during the period, with its market share growing 0.1 percentage points

Mobile

– Total revenue fell by 5.1% across the UK’s four largest operators between Q3 2008 and Q3 2009. Messaging services revenue was 7% lower than in Q3 2008 while revenues from calls and other charges fell by 5%

– Total call volumes across the four operators increased by 4.9%year-on-year

– Total messaging volumes reached 22.9 billion, equivalent to 333 messages per subscriber, this compares to 273 messages per subscriber in Q3 2008

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