Every year, the UK's telecom watchdog Ofcom releases a report on the state of the international comms market. This year's report — which includes data from countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Japan — offers a number of interesting (if familiar) insights, including the decline of fixed phone lines around the world, the relative expense of mobile data in the US, and varying morning smartphone routines around the world.
Here's a selection of some of the more interesting data:
Americans are happiest giving away their personal data
When asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement "I am happy to provide personal information online to companies as long as I get what I want," Americans were most likely to agree strongly. Respondents from Sweden were least likely to agree with this premise, while German and Spanish individuals were also more likely to be suspicious of companies using their personal data.
TV is still slightly more important than the internet for getting national news
In most countries, respondents said that the TV was their primary source of national news — but only just, with the internet a close second in pretty much every country asked. Newspapers and magazines did have a slightly better showing when respondents were asked about where they got their regional news though.
Facebook is by far the most important social network for news
This isn't much of a surprise given how many more people use Facebook than Twitter (1.44 billion vs. 302 million), but it's a reminder that Facebook dominates when it comes to "reading, watching, sharing, or discussing news." Only in Japan is YouTube more popular, while Twitter has its best showings in the UK and Spain.
Most people don't even download an app a month
The data suggest that most people rarely bother with new apps. The US is the most interested in mobile apps, with 40 percent downloading one new app per month at the very least, while the French were least interested.
Our morning smartphone routines vary country to country
What's the first thing you check on your smartphone in the morning? If you're from the UK, France, US, or Australia, it's likely to be your text messages; if you're from Germany, Italy, or Spain, it's likely to be apps like WhatsApp and Facebook's Messenger ("instant messaging" apps in Ofcom's parlance). Japan is the outlier when it came to messaging though, with the Japanese much preferring to their check email first thing.
The US pays the most for data; the UK the least
To compare the price of cellphone tariffs in different countries, Ofcom looked at different tiers — from a super-basic line with only 50 minutes of talk time a month, to a premium package with 500 minutes, 200 texts, and 5GB of 4G data. The report shows that America is clearly the most expensive country to buy a cellphone tariff, even though prices fell 3 percent during 2015. (Ofcom's figures factor in the cost of handsets in these tariffs, amortizing them over a three-year period.)
Everyone is calling each other on fixed phone lines less
The total minutes of outbound calls on fixed phone lines fell by an average of 7.5 percent across the countries surveyed, with the biggest drops in Italy (-10.3 percent), China (-9.9 percent), and India (-8.5 percent). By comparison, monthly outbound mobile minutes increased by an average of 9.5 percent per year. So at least, overall, we're not talking less.