ART and CGTI publish a study, conducted by CREDOC, on the diffusion, use and acceptability of new technologies (fixed telephony, mobile telephony, Internet, personal computers) by the French population over 12 years of age

Paris, 12 November 2003

This year, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) joined forces with the Conseil Général des Technologies de l’Information (CGTI) to head the annual survey conducted by CREDOC, at their request, of the diffusion of new information technologies (NIT) in French society.


Thanks to the association of these two institutions, the survey has been expanded and diversified, in particular as concern uses, through an increase in the number of questions asked.

The survey covers the entire field of information technologies: fixed and mobile telephony, personal computing, Internet access, and the new uses of high-speed Internet and mobile services.

For the first time, and at the request of these two institutions, the scope of the survey was expanded to include teens between the ages of 12 and 17.


  • Telephony


Following extremely strong growth in the late Nineties, the equipment rate for mobile telephones slowed, although by no means could the market be considered saturated. Fixed telephony lost subscribers, though the decline is quite slow.

Competition on fixed telephony is also growing strongly: in June 2003, 21% of the French population used the services of more than one operator at their homes, compared with 9% in June 2000.

Young people are big users of mobile telephony (90% of 18 to 29 year olds). They are very interested in new services: almost all teenagers (92%) owning a mobile telephone have already sent SMS, 25% have sent SMS+ (surcharged SMS) and 23% have sent MMS (messages containing an image, photo or sound).

Internet access via mobile phones has not yet found a very large audience. Still, its use is beginning with young people (11% of adolescents use this service).


  • Personal computing


Close to half of adults now have a personal computer at home. Home computer purchases continue to grow strongly, with 8% of households owning more than one computer. Young people are even more concerned: 69% of 12-17 year olds have a computer at home.

Schools are contributing strongly to integrating computing in the daily life of young people: 78% of 12-17 year olds use a personal computer at school. In total, 93% of them may be considered "familiar" with computers, that is, they have one at home or use one at school.

Personal computers are also used in the home office: 61% of people using a computer at home take work home.

Finally, 42% of employees use a computer at work.


  • Internet


The growth in the number of people with an Internet connection at home is comparable to the development of computer purchases: 30% of people over 18, and 40% of 12-17 year olds surfed the Web from home in June 2003. Public demand for high speed is strong: more than one-third of home connections are now broadband.

Home-based Internet access via a personal computer continues to be the preferred means of Internet connection for most people questioned (68%). Other terminals (TV set-top box, cell phone, game console) or access from other places (workplace, public place) are much less popular.


Older people feel less need to use information technologies: less than half of those over 60 years old have a cell phone, and less than a quarter of over 70 year olds; 14% of pensioners have a computer at home, and of these, only half actually use it.

However, mentalities can change more quickly than uses: no adolescent today would agree with the statement that "Internet is not useful for daily life", and just one quarter of people over sixty think so.



NB: The survey was conducted in face-to-face meetings throughout the month of June 2003, on a representative sample of the French population of 2 214 people, including 210 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.








1 – Fixed and mobile telephony

  • Fixed / mobile substitution?

    The survey confirmed a trend to substitute the fixed phone with the cell phone. However, this changeover is slow: 14% of the population no longer had a fixed phone subscription in June 2003, for a decrease of four points in three years (from 90% to 86%). People with a modest income are those most likely to give up their fixed line.


  • Growth in competition on fixed telephony

    Competition is increasing significantly on fixed telephony: 21% of the French population was able to use the services of more than one operator at their home in June 2003 compared with 9% in June 2000. Those most attracted by the competition between operators are the "average" categories: 25-39 year olds, intermediate professions, people with average income.


  • Towards a plateau of mobile telephone purchases?

    After seeing extremely high growth in the late Nineties, cell phone purchases have slowed. Could we be seeing the arrival of market saturation as stated by CREDOC personnel who set it at 70%? What is certain is that growth has stagnated, although, it seems much less certain that we can establish market saturation at 70%.


    Percentage of people aged 18 and over owning a mobile telephone

    Source: CREDOC, Survey on the "The living conditions and aspirations of the French"




    The penetration of mobile telephony among "adults" (people aged 18 and over) and among 12-17 year olds is extremely similar, around 62%.


    With adolescents, the equipment rate grows quickly with age, from less than 50% with 12-13 year olds to 90% at age 18. After the age of 30, this rate decreases significantly, but is still more than 70%. After the age of 60, less than half of people have a cell phone, less than a quarter over the age of 70.

    Mobile telephone equipment rate, 12 to 40 year olds

    (As a %)


    Source: CREDOC, Survey on the "The living conditions and aspirations of the French", June 2003



    Inequalities of access seem slight in terms of social categories: managers are about as likely to own a mobile telephone as employees and labourers (80% compared with 70%).


  • Youth are the best customers for new mobile services

    For all new services, young adolescents seem better customers than their elders. Almost all of those teens owning a telephone (92%) have already sent an SMS (compared with 53% of "adults", i.e.: 18 and over). On average, adolescents claim to send 19 SMS per week (adults send just 9). Of these teens, 25% have already sent an SMS+ (surcharged SMS), and 23% have sent an MMS (a message containing an image, photo, or sound).


    Eighty-six percent of 12-17 year olds having a cell phone play games on their phone. The same is true for 23% of those 18 and over.



    Percentage of people playing games on their mobile telephone

    - Field: persons owning a mobile telephone -



    Source: CREDOC, Survey on the "The living conditions and aspirations of the French", June 2003


    Other services have not yet found a large audience: just 5% of people owning a cell phone use it for Internet access (but 11% of 12-17 year olds do), and just 4% use it to read e-mail (8% of 12-17 year olds).


    So, the use of cell phones is much better integrated and more varied with young people, who might determine the success of the development of these new services, and contribute to the development of UMTS.



    2 – Is the growth of the diffusion of personal computers a durable acceleration?


    Close to half of adults (46%) now has a computer at home, and computer purchases by individuals has seen significant growth: + 7% (compared with 2 to 3% in the previous two years).


    The proportion is even higher with 12-17 year olds (69%). Moreover, 8% of all people 12 years and over now has more than one computer in their home.


    Ten percent of people without computers plan to purchase one in the next 12 months. The figure is even higher for people already owning one (18%), reflecting the importance of the replacement market.


    Percentage of people 18 years of age and older having a computer at home

    Source: CREDOC, Survey on the "The living conditions and aspirations of the French"



  • Personal computer use and its diversification

    The use of computers is becoming more common: 82% of those people questioned who have a computer at home use it, and use is more frequent among the young (90% of 12-17 year olds).


    As for the types of use, adolescents prefer games (90%), but also use their computer for their homework (80%). Those over 18 have more varied uses for their computer: seeking information and writing, mail, then games and work.


    Those most hesitant to use computers are the unemployed and the retired, as well as those with no post-secondary education: when they have a computer at home, just over half of them use it personally.


    In fact, the use of a computer at work or school seems to strongly incite people to use one at home. Sixty-eight percent of high school or university students 12 years and older say they use a computer for their studies, compared with 42% of people who use one for work.


    School plays a major role in familiarising young people with computing: 78% of 12-17 year olds say they use a personal computer at school.


    Overall, 93% of 12-17 year olds can be considered to be "familiar" with computing, that is, they have a computer at home or they use one at work or school. This is the case of just half (54%) of adults.


    3 – The diffusion of Internet


  • Can nine out of ten teens be considered surfers?

    The increase in the number of computers in homes with Internet access is confirmed: 30% in June 2003. Adolescents are the most likely to have access at home (40%), and of those not yet having it, many plan to get access within the next 12 months (21% compared with 13% among those 18 and over).


    Percentage of people 18 years of age and older having Internet access at home


    Source: CREDOC, Survey on the "The living conditions and aspirations of the French"


    High-speed access via ADSL represents 29% of connections, and cable 14%. However, the cable estimate seems a bit high, possibly due to a poor understanding of the question by those questioned.


    However, the home is not the only place adolescents access Internet: 72% can use access at school, and 35% of them have already accessed Internet in another public place. In all, 87% of 12-17 year olds can be considered "surfers" (subject to a clearer definition of the term). Familiarity with the "Web" then decreases regularly with age: only half of 40-59 year olds have access or have accessed Internet, and only 14% of those over 60.


    Personal computers seem to be the most natural means of access to Internet: 67% of those over 18 and 76% of 12-17 year olds, showing growth over previous years. Other means of connection are marginal (TV set-top box, cell phone, game console, etc.).



  • A clear gap
  • Inequalities in Internet access are clear. The equipment rate for better-off households (67%), upper management (66%) as well as university graduates (60%) is significantly different from that of lower-income households (14%), labourers (21%) and housewives (19%).



    The size of the "gap"

    - Percentage of people having Internet access at home -

    Source: CREDOC, Survey on the "The living conditions and aspirations of the French"

  • Internet to new uses

    The multimedia services available on Internet are making the medium more and more attractive. Some services attract as many teens as adults: 40% of surfers watch mini video clips on Internet, 30% use the Web in peer-to-peer mode to download music, films and software. On the other hand, instant messaging services and on-line gaming target an audience of teens and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.


    On-line purchases are growing: in June 2001, 7% of people aged 18 and over had already used this mode; they were 13% in June 2003. However, the percentage of those hesitating remains high: 79% of people still do not plan to make on-line purchases in the next year. The question of payment security is the first reason: 44% of adults over 18 think that Internet is not secure, with this number remaining practically unchanged since 2001 (49% at the time).


    More generally, as for personal computers, practically no one of adolescents considers that "Internet is not useful in daily life", and only one-quarter of people over sixty. On the other hand, cost still seems to be the primary obstacle to owning a personal computer and accessing Internet, whether in terms of call costs or the cost of equipment.

    Linked documents

     Slides of the conference (ppt - 621 Ko)  fr  The CREDOC's study  fr   Pictures of the press meeting  
    The CREDOC study can be downloaded from both  the CGTI's Web sites