The number of machine-to-machine (M2M) mobile data connections in the UK increased by nine per cent last year on 2012 figures, UK communications regulator Ofcom has reported.
In its annual communications market report (429-page/4.10MB PDF), the regulator said 5.6 million M2M mobile data connections were made in the year ending December 2013.
It defined M2M as "cellular communications between machines, rather than between people" and said it "includes uses such as smart electricity meters, connected office equipment and connections with company vehicle fleets, provided directly by mobile network operators."
"The total number of UK mobile data connections (which here includes M2M connections) increased by 6.5 million (13.3 per cent) to 55 million in the year to December 2013," Ofcom's report said. "Most of this increase (6.2 million connections) was in the number of mobile handsets that were used to make a data connection (up by 16.1 per cent to 44.5 million as a result of increasing smartphone take-up), although the number of M2M mobile connections also showed strong growth, up by 0.5 million (9 per cent) to 5.6 million during the year."
Ofcom's study found that 61 per cent of UK adults now own a smartphone, up from 51 per cent reported last year. The study also highlighted the increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet, as 57 per cent of respondents to its survey said "they personally used their mobile phone to access the internet", compared with less than half of the population (49 per cent) who said they did as recently as the first quarter of 2013.
The report also said that mobile advertising expenditure in the UK grew 93.3 per cent in 2013 to now total £1bn, whilst online TV revenues grew 41 per cent in the year to reach £364m. EBay is now the most popular retail website in the UK, ahead of Amazon, the Ofcom study found, with Argos and Tesco the next most visited sites by UK consumers.
The regulator's report also highlighted the fact that 60 per cent of workers at least occasionally read or send personal text messages during work hours, 46 per cent of the UK's working population read or send work emails when out of the office. Around 60 per cent of workers do "some form of work-related communication activity, either regularly or occasionally, outside work" and more than 30 per cent of workers "take part in some form of work-related activity while on holiday", it said.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "We're now spending more time using media or communications than sleeping. The convenience and simplicity of smartphones and tablets are helping us cram more activities into our daily lives."
Luke Scanlon, a technology law specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "Connected technologies are assisting businesses engage with and service existing and potential customers and the workforce. But they are also enabling organisations to make connections about those customers, their employees and future employees and develop innovative products and propositions.
“The most interesting questions that are continuing to arise are the legitimacy of these connections particularly where they are unfavourable to the persons to whom they relate," he added.
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