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Texting overtakes calling in U.K., says research

The average Brit sends 200 text messages a month, according to annual research by U.K. communications regulator Ofcom.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

It may be "good to talk," as telecom giant BT's ads put it in the early '90s. But two decades on, the U.K. has evolved into a nation of texters.

According to research published Monday by U.K. communications regulator Ofcom, text messaging is outstripping actually making a call. Last year 58 percent of people communicated via text messaging on a daily basis, while only 47 percent made a mobile call at least once a day, the watchdog found.

Voice calling is seeing something of a drop in popularity: mobile call volumes were down by 1 percent in 2011 compared with 2010 -- falling from 125 billion minutes in 2010 to 124 billion in 2011. And landline calling declined by 10 percent, despite the cost of making a mobile phone call being around the same as making one on a landline.

Meanwhile, Ofcom's figures show the average U.K. consumer's use of text message is growing: last year, consumers sent an average of around 200 text messages a month -- nearly 17 percent more than the year before.

The U.K. population could well have been sporting some sore thumbs last year, after sending more than 150 billion text messages.

As might be expected, the teenage and young adult population are driving up the numbers: with the rise of mobile social networking and instant messaging, Ofcom said 96 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds used "some form of text-based application" each day in 2011.

Ofcom's research also found the proportion of the population owning a tablet reached 11 percent in the first quarter of 2012, up from 2 percent in the first quarter of last year. Separately, e-reader ownership now stands at just under 10 percent of the U.K. population, with more than 40 percent of e-reader owners saying that they are reading more thanks to the devices.

Elsewhere, the research showed an ever-increasing broadband-connected population, with the U.K reaching 20 million fixed subscriptions in 2011, and notching up another 5 million mobile broadband connections.

All in all, more than three-quarters of all U.K. homes were plugged into a broadband connection by the first quarter of this year.