Belfast Telegraph

Half now use social network sites

Use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter in Northern Ireland has doubled since 2008 - and half of people now access them regularly, according to Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report.

Customers are going online for everyday needs and tasks, with half watching television, video or checking bank accounts, and a third searching for information on health-related issues.

Ofcom Northern Ireland director Jonathan Rose said: "Over the last five years we have seen Northern Ireland catch up and in some cases overtake the rest of the UK in the use of the latest communications services."

Since 2008, broadband penetration in Northern Ireland has risen to 75%, making the region second only to England among the UK regions for take-up. The 5% increase from last year reflects increasing speeds, with the roll-out of super-fast broadband across Northern Ireland and Belfast in particular enjoying lightning speeds.

Consumer satisfaction with speeds increased significantly over the last year, with 83% claiming to be fairly or very satisfied, 13% more than last year. Urban customers were more satisfied than rural counterparts.

Northern Ireland has benefited in recent years from extensive investment in the telecoms infrastructure by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, BT and other operators.

Ofcom conducted 511 interviews in Northern Ireland last winter, split between urban and rural areas. It found that 47% use social networking sites regularly compared to 22% in 2008.

Most people (53%) watch television or video online, 51% use internet banking and nearly a third (32%) access health information online. Broadband penetration stands at 75% while 92% use a mobile phone - and almost a quarter use a smartphone such as iPhone or Blackberry.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle remains the most listened to radio station with an average weekly audience of 591,000 listeners tuning in each week, according to the latest Rajar (Radio Joint Audio Research) figures for the second quarter of this year.

These figures show an increase of 59,000 listeners to the station year on year and an increase of 26,000 listeners quarter on quarter.

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