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Smartphones overtake laptops for internet access

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online, according to the latest research from Ofcom. It means every business must ensure that it has a mobile-friendly website.

Ofcom research has revealed that 33% of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online, compared to 30% who are sticking with their laptop. It says we now spend almost twice as long online with our smartphones than on laptops and personal computers.

This marks a clear shift since 2014, when 22% turned to their phone first and 40% preferred their laptop.

According to Ofcom's 2015 Communications Market Report, two-thirds of UK adults now own a smartphone, up from 39% in 2012, and they use it for nearly two hours every day to browse the internet, access social media, bank and shop online.

Not surprisingly, the report reveals that the vast majority (90%) of 16-24 year olds own a smartphone; but ownership in the 55-64 year-old range has more than doubled since 2012, up from 19% to 50%.

According to Ofcom, the surge is being driven by the increasing take-up of 4G mobile broadband, providing faster online access. During 2014, 4G subscriptions leapt from 2.7 million to 23.6 million.

Researchers have also found that smartphone users with 4G are shopping online more than those without 4G (55% compared to 35% ); banking more online (55% versus 33%); watching more TV and video clips online (57% versus 40%); and making more face-to-face and voice calls over the internet (28% versus 20%).

With mobile operators continuing to expand their 4G networks, Ofcom rules mean that 98% of premises will have an indoor 4G signal from at least one operator by 2017.

Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, said: "Today's report shows just how important reliable, fast internet access is to millions of consumers and businesses. Improving the coverage and quality of all communications services across the UK is a priority for Ofcom."

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