Texting in the UK

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

The British communications regulator Ofcom just published a new analysis of telecommunications in the UK and there were some interesting results. After years of constant growth, Britons are now making fewer calls on their mobile phones, but the number of text messages sent has increased dramatically.

So the British are texting more and speaking less – is it significant?

It shows a marked change in the way people are communicating today. For instance, the survey notes that 58% of British adults send at least one text message a day, yet only 49% engage in a face-to-face conversation on a daily basis.

The argument for texting is easy – it is an asynchronous mode of communication. In short, I can send a text and not worry about disturbing the person, they can respond in their own time. A call is intrusive – it demands immediate attention. I personally ignore my telephone if I am busy with work because to endlessly be picking up the phone each time it rings would mean I never actually achieve a thing – other than answering calls from people who assume I am free to talk.

But it is significant to see that the number of calls is actually dropping and it is a worry for the mobile phone industry. They don’t make much money on texts – they are usually bundled into a contract, so voice calls are dropping and many are learning how to use their 3G connections to make a call bypassing the phone company.

But the most shocking news from this survey has nothing to do with phones at all. Can it really be true that half of British adults do not have a conversation with another person for an entire day? Maybe they should pick up the phone and call a friend…

One thought on “Texting in the UK”

  1. Personally I do not like SMSing when contacting friends and relatives. For me it rather formal way of communication. For example for a teacher to inform me about changed schedule. Well, if I need send or provide important piece of information to somebody, I prefer SMS because it is asynchronous and less intrusive. From the other side, why people prefer text to live voice? If just save money when calling another provider, then phone companies need optimize their pricing, especially for external (between nets) calls.

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