Every year, we await the Ofcom Communications Market Report with interest, and every year, we spend hours of our time pouring over the data held within. In truth, it now covers such a diverse array of services and audience, that the finer details are all-too often forgotten, and as we all know, the devil’s in the detail.
We’ve trawled through the report, so you don’t have to, and picked out the three trends we believe could be crucial for businesses over the next 12 months.
Fixed lines: Whilst the number of fixed lines remained static (business and domestic), we’re using them less as a nation. This points at two important things for businesses: they aren’t yet ready to go mobile-only, but they are increasingly using them as a fall-back option. With the range of options available for VOIP, instant messaging and secure communications, mobile is the future, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about fixed. Innovation is still vital to the SME audience, so telecoms suppliers mustn’t forget this crucial element to a business’ overall communications experience.
Flexibility is the new de rigueur: There has been a significant shift towards pay-monthly tariffs, and from a business point of view, this can offer you flexibility and control. Overall mobile subscriptions are now approaching 100m in the UK. Post-pay subscriptions grew by more than 6%, which shows users may not be getting quite as excited as they used to by the ‘latest handset’ and instead, opting for a SIM only deal, offering the best value. The question has to be asked, have we reached groundhog day with hardware development? After all, just how much has the iPhone actually changed in the past five years?
Data is king: Once perhaps seen as a ‘nice to have’, a flexible and appropriate data allowance is now expected as-standard. Text seems to be in terminal decline, under threat from instant messaging services, such as iMessage and WhatsApp, so why do telcos continue to boast about their ‘unlimited’ texts as part of deals? Consumers and businesses have moved on. The figures around data usage are perhaps the most astonishing, with consumption up 44% over the year, per connection. Businesses can now do more, on the move, but only if there’s adequate signal in the first place.
As a side note, M2M and 4G were also big ‘winners’ from this latest report, with more than 50m devices (62% of all active subscriptions) being 4G. We’d recount the warning we’ve given before, that whilst 4G is all well and good, we must get the basics right first. Over to you Ofcom and the MNOs.