Spaniards are catching up rapidly with the technology revolution that has shaken the mobile phone world. In just one year, Spain has doubled the number of users of Internet-connected mobile phones up to 52% of the market, eight percentage points more than the European average, according to the latest Eurobarometer report on e-communications.
The survey shows that Europeans not only seek data connection but more mobile bandwidth, and are very sensitive to price changes. Most European users–81%–aren’t willing to pay higher bills even if this brought improvements in speed or download capacity, but many would switch to a new operator if they were offer those same better deals at a no extra charge.
Yet, in Spain, the impact of the growing use of phones with Internet access has been low over the number of Internet-connected households. Eurobarometer points out that Spanish homes with world wide web services lag 10 percentage points below the European average.
Broadband access at home is the reality for 3/4 of households: 72.5% of EU households now have a broadband connection, up from 67.3% in 2011 (Source: Eurostat). The number leapt by 20 percentage points in Romania and by 16.7 points in Slovakia, with more than 50% of households now having a broadband connection across all member states.
And the division between phone & Internet is blurring fast: 34% use the internet to make voice calls (Voice over Internet Protocol or “VOIP”), up 7 points in 2012. 28% uses the internet to talk to users on the same VOIP network for free, and 4% use VOIP to make cheaper international calls. Web-based calls are extremely popular in Bulgaria (57%), Cyprus (55%), Estonia (54%), Lithuania & Latvia (51%). VOIP is less used in Portugal (18%), Italy, (26%), Spain (28%) & Greece (29%), but becoming more popular, with use growing by an average of 7 points since 2011. The increase in VOIP use seems to track the growth in broadband; for example, in Cyprus, there were 11% more connected households in 2012 and VOIP use grew by 16 points.
“Ensuring consumers’ expectations can be met at an affordable price is one of the aims of the Connected Continent package, which will be presented by the Commission in September,” said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda.
ADSL or cable connection still is the second option, well behind broadband’s–53% of Spanish households.