LTE subscriptions leap 20m in a year in the UK, Ofcom reveals

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The UK boasts 23.6 million LTE subscriptions, 28 percent of total, growing more than 20 million in a year, new figures from Ofcom have revealed.

Despite the market being a latecomer to LTE, adoption has soared since EE launched its first contracts in late 2012. At least one operator is able to provide LTE to 89.5 percent of households. Four in 10 are able to choose from all four operators.

Coverage is set to increase during the coming years, with Ofcom rules stipulating 98 percent of all premises must have an indoor 4G signal by 2017.

However, it noted that half a million premises, or two percent of the population, still have no access to a 2G signal.

The report revealed smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for browsing the internet. It said 66 percent of UK consumers own a smartphone and use it for an average of two hours per day.

Consumer behaviour also changes with LTE. More consumers shop online (55 percent compared to 35 percent), bank online (55 percent against 33 percent), watch more video (57 percent versus 40 percent) and make more VoIP calls (28 percent versus 20 percent).

Consumption of SMS fell for the second year in a row, as more people flock to OTT services. UK consumers sent 110 billion messages last year, compared to 129 billion in 2013.

The UK regulator said that in the coming months, consumers will be able to compare mobile coverage throughout the country. The maps will be able to deliver postcode and location specific coverage information.

Recent research from Rootmetrics revealed the UK could become a two-tier market, with EE and Three stretching their lead over O2 and Vodafone.

James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research, said: “4G has supercharged our smartphones, helping people do everything from the weekly shop to catching up with friends with a face-to-face video call. For the first time, smartphones have overtaken laptops as the UK’s most popular internet device and are now the hub of our daily lives.”

Increasing take-up of smartphones and tablets is boosting time spent online. Over half of UK households (54%) now have a tablet, a rapid rise in popularity from just 2% in 2011.