Finnish service usage patterns for electronic communications services

In the spring of 2015, FICORA commissioned an annual consumer survey that examined Finns' service usage patterns for communications services. The questionnaire was implemented as telephone interviews during March and April, and the sample represents 15–79-year-old residents of Mainland Finland. 3,000 persons responded to the questionnaire. A comparable survey was also implemented in the spring of 2014 and in the autumns of 2010–2012.

Over 90 per cent of Finns have an internet connection in use

According to the survey, 92 per cent of Finns have an ínternet connection in use. The share has grown during the past few years, and growth from 2014 was 3 percentage points. Almost every person under 54 years of age has an internet connection, but one in five of over 55-year-olds does not have an internet connection in use. A mobile phone in voice use is missing from only a few per cent of Finns, and the share is the same in all age groups. A landline phone is only used by 9 per cent of Finns. Most often landline phones are used by 65–79-year-olds, of whom one in five still has a landline phone.

The number of mobile network data transfer subscriptions, i.e. mobile broadband connections, in particular, has been growing during the past few years. Already 70 per cent of Finns have mobile broadband in use. When comparing the consumer survey of 2014 to the spring of 2015, the frequency of mobile broadband grew by 6 per cent. Compared to 2010, the number of mobile broadband users has doubled. In contrast, more than 60 per cent of households have had fixed internet connections throughout the 2010s, and in the spring of 2015, a fixed internet connection was in use by a total of 64 per cent. The share of people owning a fixed internet connection has grown by 2 per cent per year, which is also supported by the information on the number of subscriptions collected by FICORA from telecommunications operators, according to which growth in the number of subscriptions is approximately similar.

An increasing number of Finns thus have in use both fixed and mobile broadband, because over 40 per cent of Finns have in use both internet connections. The share of people using only mobile broadband is already 28 per cent. It can be seen that in the near future all mobile network subscriptions will include a data transfer service. A fixed network internet connection only is used by slightly more than one-fifth of Finns any more.


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Figure: Internet connections in use by Finns 2010–2015

It is likely that the development of the reliability and data transfer speed of mobile broadband has attracted some consumers to move from fixed broadband to mobile broadband only. Mobile broadband has strengthened its position among Finns, because over 40 per cent of the respondents in the survey considered that they could get along with mobile broadband only. The share has increased compared to the previous survey, and for the first time a slightly larger share of the respondents considered that they could get along with mobile broadband only. Nevertheless, a fixed internet connection is still the most important internet connection for an average half of the respondents. In the group of 18–24-year-olds, mobile broadband has become the most important subscription, which may point to future development.

The results of the consumer survey are also supported by the recent international Telecommunications Markets in the Nordic and Baltic Countries statistical publication, according to which Finland has the most mobile broadband connections compared to the Nordic and Baltic countries. In Finland, people also use mobile data the most, and the volume of transferred mobile data grows faster in Finland than in other countries.

Mobile broadband is used in Finland increasingly often with smartphones and tablets. Already two in three Finns use mobile broadband with a mobile phone and more than one-third with a tablet. At the same time, the use of mobile broadband with a laptop computer has decreased significantly, although more than half still also use it with a laptop computer. Finns have acquired mobile broadband to be able to use the internet regardless of place. The acquisition of mobile broadband as part of a service package together with a fixed broadband subscription, for example, has become more common during the past few years, which points to the fact that operators' productisation models have undergone changes.


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Figure: Devices with which Finns use mobile broadband

In international comparisons however, Finland falls behind the other Nordic countries when it comes to the availability of top-speed internet connections. In Sweden, for example, the number of fast connections of over 30 Mbps per resident is double compared to Finland. However, according to the consumer survey, Finns are quite satisfied with the speed of their internet connection, as 80 per cent experience that their current data transfer speed is appropriate. One in six feels that they need a faster connection, but the share of those not satisfied with their speed has fallen annually. Of the respondents not satisfied with their speed, only one-third do not have sufficiently fast internet connections on offer, so in most cases people satisfy themselves with too slow internet connections for other reasons than availability.

According to the survey, of those who do not have an internet connection in use, more than half feel that they do not need the internet at all, and one in five has not acquired internet at home because they can use the internet elsewhere. According to the survey, the inconvenience or expense of acquiring an internet connection are increasingly rare reasons for not acquiring an internet connection.

Use of mobile phones becoming more diversified

According to the survey, Finns use various services in a more diversified manner with a mobile phone. Services utilised on the internet, such as email, social media and various instant messaging, in particular, have in a few years established their position in regular use by Finns. Despite the storm of new services, traditional SMS (Short Message Service) messages have remained the most frequently used mobile phone service after calls, because 84 per cent state that they use SMS messages regularly. Instant messaging is already used by over 40 per cent of the respondents. According to the survey, the use of instant messaging has slightly exceeded the use of traditional SMSs with people aged under 25. Older age groups have also found instant messaging, and the use of instant messaging has grown during the past year with people aged 35–54, in particular. The trend from SMS messages to the use of instant messaging is likely to continue during the next few years.

According to the international Telecommunication Markets in the Nordic and Baltic Countries statistical publication, fairly few SMS messages are sent in Finland compared to the Nordic and Baltic countries. Only in Estonia the number of SMS messages sent per resident is lower than in Finland. Finns sent an average number of 50 SMS messages per month in 2014, and the number has been falling since 2012. According to the market information collected by FICORA, in deviation from other reference countries, the making of mobile calls has also taken a downward turn in Finland, and at the same time the average length of calls has increased. It is likely that instead of making short calls people use instant messaging, for example, more often in Finland.


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Figure: Services used regularly by Finns with a mobile phone 2011–2015


This article is a part of FICORA's Communications Sector Review 2/2015.


Key words: Internet, Telephone, Broadband, Land-line phone, Mobile broadband, Mobile phone, Subscription, Articles, Reviews, Statistics


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