The diffusion of information and communication technologies in France – 2005 survey

Paris, 6 December 2005

Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes (ARCEP) and the Conseil Général des Information technologies (CGTI) are publishing the results of their third annual survey of the diffusion of information technologies (fixed and mobile telephony, PC, Internet) in France.

This survey was conducted by CREDOC on the request of ARCEP and CGTI in June 2004. Face-to-face interviews were held with a representative sample of the French population of 2 219 people, including 212 adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Again this year, the survey confirms the appeal of information technologies in France. We find that young people are both forerunners and opinion leaders. In June 2005, more than half of the population have a computer at home and 40% are connected to Internet. Some of the highlights of 2005 are the very strong growth of high-speed connections and the development of uses (telephone, TV via ADSL, administrative and taxation procedures, e-commerce). Still, we observe a decrease in the equipment rate and use of Internet at work and school. People continue to replace fixed phones with mobiles. We also note increased competition among fixed telephony operators: three out of ten people in France now use more than one operator.

  • Telephony: substitution of fixed telephony by mobile telephony continues

The mobile telephone equipment rate in France continues to grow, and reached 70% for people over the age of 18 in June 2005; a 2 point rise over the previous year. Conversely, the proportion of adults with a fixed telephone line in their home continues to decline to 82%; 2 points lower than a year ago.

Almost all respondents having chosen to cancel their fixed telephone subscription at home replaced it with a mobile telephone. The number of people having only a mobile telephone increased by one-third in two years (12% of the population in 2003, 16% in 2005).

The fixed telephone market is shrinking while competition is intensifying: 30% of adults having a fixed telephone now have subscriptions with more than one operator; the figure has risen sharply over one year (+6 points, after +3 points in 2004).

The use of text messaging (SMS) continues to develop. Two-thirds of mobile telephone owners now send SMS, for a 10% increase in one year.

New mobile services are also becoming important in 2005: a rising share of mobile phone owners use their phone to surf the web (10% in 2005, compared with just 5% two years earlier) and 7% of users consult their e-mail on their mobile phone in 2005, compared with 4% in 2003.

  • Computers: 57% of the population uses one at home, at work or at school

Computer use is rising primarily due to regular increases in computer purchases for home use, concerning 53% of adults over the age of 18. The presence of children in the home is a major impetus for buying a computer: the homes of 78% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 now have a computer.

As computer use becomes increasingly common in homes, it appears that some uses outside the home lose their interest. In particular, compared to a year ago, fewer students over the age of 18 use a computer at school. This decline is due in part to the increase in personal purchases by students, facilitated by government incentives: 73% of students have a computer, compared with 68% a year ago.

45% of the active population uses a computer at work. The proportion of employed people using a computer every day at work has not changed (35%); on the other hand, the number of people using one infrequently is declining.

43% of people over the age of 12 never use a computer. Half of them are aged 60 or more (whereas seniors over the age of 60 represent just one quarter of the French population), 85% of these have not completed their secondary education (58% of the total population).

  • Internet: half of the population over the age of 12 has used Internet during the past 12 months

More than half of the population can now be considered to have surfed the web when we consider all the Internet connection modes (at home, at work, at school, in public places and via mobile telephone).

The use of Internet in homes is growing slightly more quickly than the diffusion of computers (+4 points in 2005 for Internet, compared with +3 points for computers). Internet has been catching up for years: since 2000, the Internet access rate at home has risen 25 points, whereas the equipment rate in computers has grown 19 points. The generalisation of high-speed Internet offers has quickly attracted consumers: 75% of individuals with Internet access have a high-speed and high-capacity connection (compared with 55% last year).

Higher speeds facilitate the spread of new uses: over the past 12 months, 40% of web surfers have used Internet to complete administrative or taxation tasks, 39% have downloaded software, films or music, 8% have an ADSL television subscription. Twenty percent of people over the age of 12 have bought something via Internet in the past 12 months.

7% of people over the age of 12 make phone calls via ADSL (voice on broadband), representing 9% of fixed telephone subscribers. Also, 4% of those surveyed use voice on IP (VoIP) with specific software (such as Skype or Net Meeting).

18% of people connect to Internet outside their home or work: primarily using computers available in public places (11% in Internet cafés, libraries, post offices, etc.), but also on a mobile telephone (7%). Connections in public places using a personal laptop computer remain quite rare (2%).


ANNEXE

PREAMBLE

The survey was conducted in face-to-face interviews during the month of June 2005, on a sample of 2 219 people representative of the French population, aged 12 years and over.

This survey describes the equipment and uses of individuals.

In this survey, the equipment rate represents the proportion of individuals having a computer in their home, and not the proportion of homes which have one, as is generally measured in other studies.

For example, according to our survey, 40% of population aged 12 and over (or about 50 million people) have an Internet connection at home in June 2005, whereas Médiamétrie estimates that 34%, or 24.7 million households, have an Internet connection at the same date. These two rates shouldn’t be identical, unless the household’s equipment is independent of its size, which is not the case (large households are generally better equipped).

The characteristics in terms of sex, age, education, profession and place of residence are those of the person interviewed, whereas the income is that of the household to which this person belongs.

1 - FIXED AND MOBILE TELEPHONY

> The trend to replace fixed telephones with mobile telephones continues

In June 2005, 82% of adults have at least one fixed telephone line in their home. Year on year, this proportion continues to decline: it was 90% in 2000, and even higher before mobile telephones appeared on the French market (95%).

Almost everyone who has chosen to cancel the fixed telephone subscription at home has replaced it with a mobile telephone: the number of people owning only a mobile telephone has increased by one-third in two years (12% of population in 2003, 16% in 2005).

In just a few years, the popularity of mobile telephones has grown at a rate never before seen in the history of capital goods: just eight years after the appearance of the GSM standard (in 1992), the equipment rate already reached 47%. Today, 70% of the French population owns a mobile phone.

Fixed and mobile telephony equipment rate of adults
Population: people 18 and over

Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des français".

> Competition between the fixed telephony operators intensifies

The fixed telephone market is shrinking, while, at the same time, competition intensifies: 30% of adults owning a fixed telephone now have subscriptions with more than one operator. This figure has increased sharply in one year (+6 points, after +3 points in 2004).

In summary, 18% of adults do not have a fixed telephone subscription, 57% subscribe with just one operator, and 25% deal with more than one fixed telephony operator. The proportion of people subscribing with a single operator has decreased by 24 points in five years.

Breakdown of the population by fixed telephone ownership the home
Population: people 18 and over


Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

> Surfing Internet and e-mail: new uses for mobile telephones

A growing share of mobile telephone owners use their phone to surf the web: 10% in 2005, compared with just 5% two years earlier. The same trend can be seen for reading e-mails on a mobile phone: 7% of users in 2005, compared with 4% in 2003.

As the latest generations of mobile telephone provide faster access to Internet, we can expect these practices to develop, and the service offer expand. It is unlikely that mobile telephones will replace computers as the favoured means of accessing the web, but we can expect mobile phones to serve as a complementary tool for young people and people who travel frequently.

Using a mobile telephone to surf Internet or consult e-mails
Population: people owning a mobile telephone
(as a %)


Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

The success of text messaging (SMS) cannot be denied. Not only are more and more mobile users using these services: 64% in 2005, compared with 58% in 2004, they’re also sending more messages: 14 per week, compared with 12 in 2004. The drop in SMS prices, following pressure on operators from consumer associations and governments, is likely a key factor in this growth. Further, new offers, such as SMS flat rates, encourage increased use.

2 – PERSONAL COMPUTERS

> Computer ownership by individuals continues to grow

In June 2005, 55% of those 12 years and over have at least one computer at home (11% have more than one) and 40% are connected to Internet. Of the adult population (18 years and over), the figures are respectively 53% and 39%. Both have grown strongly this year (+3 and +4 points). In the past five years, the number of computers owned by individuals is more and more linked to Internet: in 2000, 41% of computers were connected to the web, whereas close to three-quarters are today.

Computer and Internet connection equipment rate of adults at home
Population: people 18 and over


Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

When there is a computer in the home, almost every member of the family uses it. Daily use has increased significantly in one year, growing from 48% to 56%.

> 57% of the population uses a computer at home, work or school

Thirty-eight percent of people aged 12 and over use their computer every day (at work, school or home), 11% use it weekly and 8%, less frequently. In all, 57% of the population uses a computer, for a slight increase this year (+1 point).

Frequency of computer use at home, work or school
Population: people aged 12 and over
(as a %)

Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

While computer use at home increased in 2005, the same cannot be said for computer use at work or at school. In 2004, 54% of employed persons and students used a computer at work or school, whereas the number has fallen to 51% in 2005. While the decline is not great, it is surprising because the home equipment rate continues to grow.

The decline is significant with students 18 and over: the share of those using a computer at school fell from 62% in 2004 to 50% in 2005. This decline is due in part to the increase in computer purchases by students, facilitated in particular by government incentives: 73% of students now own a computer, compared with 68% the previous year.

Forty-five percent of employed people use a computer at work; this is slightly lower than the previous year (48%). The proportion of people using a computer every day has not changed (35%); rather, weekly and less frequent use seem to be on the decline.

Forty-three percent of people aged 12 and over never use a computer, at home or anywhere else. Half of these people are aged 60 years or more (for one quarter of the total population), and 85% have not completed high school (compared with 58% in the total population).

> The major obstacle to buying a PC continues to be "the price"

Once again, those surveyed considered that the major obstacle to buying a computer is the price (62%), but also the complexity of these products (43%).

Certainly, the price of computers is declining, but they continue to be too costly for many households.

The user friendliness of computer products is improving, but new services are constantly appearing, and many users say that they can't get their equipment to work or are afraid they will not be able to solve computer problems on their own. Year on year, the proportion of people who consider that computers are too complex continues to rise: 38% in 2003, 41% in 2004 and 43% in 2005. Further, 26% of those surveyed consider that there are too many types of computer, accessories and software to install.

Despite these obstacles, the computer is attracting more and more people in France. As it increases in popularity, more and more people consider it useful, with just 26% thinking that computers are not useful for daily life; the figure was 29% a year ago, and 31% in 2003.

3 - INTERNET

> In June 2005, 40% of population aged 12 and over have an Internet connection at home

The use of Internet at home is growing slightly more quickly than computer purchases (+4 points in 2005 for Internet, compared with +3 points for computers). Internet has been catching up for a number of years: since 2000, Internet access rates at home have risen 25 points, whereas the computer equipment rate rose 19 points. However, one-quarter of those who have a computer at home don’t yet have Internet access.

Eighteen percent of people not having Internet access plan to purchase it in the next 12 months. This is a significant figure, which has been rising constantly since 2003: 14% in 2003, 16% in 2004. Internet attracts many people, and young people not having access are particularly drawn to it: 46% of adolescents who do not have Internet access plan to purchase it this year.

> The triumph of high speed

The highlight of the year 2005 is the very strong growth in high-speed connections: 75% of individuals subscribing to Internet have a high-speed, high-capacity connection; compared to just 55% last year.

ADSL connections have multiplied in small cities: in one year, the share of people with a high-speed connection in rural towns rose from 24% to 60% of the population having Internet (+36 points, compared with +12 points in the Paris region).

Access to high speed goes hand in hand with more intense use of the web: in particular, there are twice as many people who connect every day among high-speed subscribers.

Proportion of people who connect to Internet every day
Population: people with Internet at home
(as a %)


Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

> 18% of people use Internet outside their home or work

Eleven percent of people aged 12 and over have used Internet in a public place in the past twelve months (in an Internet café, library, post office, etc.). This proportion is far from negligible because, with respect to the total population, it corresponds to 5.5 million people in France.

Ten percent of mobile telephone users, or 7% of all people aged 12 and over, connect to Internet via their mobile telephone.

Internet can also be accessed in public places using a laptop computer, via a Wi-Fi connection, using the mobile telephony network or the fixed phone network. These practices are still relatively rare: just 2% of people surveyed report having used one of these methods to connect to Internet in the past twelve months.

In all, by totalling the three types of access, 18% of people aged 12 and over connect to Internet when they are "on the move".

Connections "on the move"
Population: people aged 12 and over


Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

> 52% of surfers in the past twelve months

When we consider all the ways one can connect to Internet, access at home, at work or school, but also in public places and via mobile telephones, more than one in two people today can be considered to be a "surfer".

The proportion of people connecting to Internet, according to connection mode
Population: people aged 12 years and over
(as a %)

 

June 2005

Connect to Internet at home

37

Connect to Internet at work or school

25

Have connected to Internet in the past 12 months, in Internet cafés, libraries

18

Have connected to Internet in the past 12 months, in public places using a laptop

2

Have connected to Internet, in the past 12 months, via a mobile telephone

8

Surfers

52

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Key to reading: in June 2005, 37% of the population connected to Internet in their home, 25% have done so at work or school. In total, 52% have connected to Internet.

Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".

> Telephoning via ADSL or with a computer

There are two ways of making telephone calls via Internet:

  • Telephone via ADSL, also called "voice on broadband" designates the fixed telephony services using voice on IP (VoIP) technology on an Internet access network. The service is provided to the user by an operator which controls the quality of the service. In practice, users connect a box to their phone jack (such as Freebox, 9Box, LiveBox, etc.).
  • Telephone on computer, called "Voice on IP" (VoIP), designates the voice communications services using the public Internet network. The quality of service is not controlled by an operator. In practice, the user downloads software onto the computer (e.g. Skype or Net Meeting), and connects a microphone and speakers to the computer; if the computer is equipped with a webcam, the callers can also see each other on the computer screen.

Seven percent of people aged 12 and over telephone on Internet via ADSL in June 2005. Of those having a fixed telephone line, this figure corresponds to 9% of subscribers.

Telephoning using a computer ("Voice on IP") requires a number of steps. The practice is a bit less common than telephone via ADSL: it concerns 4% of the population.

The most experienced surfers use both systems to make telephone calls: 30% of people who use a FreeBox or LiveBox also make calls via their computer and, conversely, 52% of users of systems such as Skype or Net Meeting also use a telephone connected to the ADSL box. This may be explained by reasons related to the invoicing of these services: telephone via ADSL is free for national calls to fixed phones only, whereas telephone via Internet also lets users make international at no charge.

Fixed telephone and Internet equipment
Population: total population aged 12 and over
(as a %)

 

2005

Have no fixed telephone

18

Have a fixed telephone, but no subscription to Internet

42

Have a fixed telephone and a subscription to Internet

40

. Of which: high-speed connection

30

     . Of which: telephone via ADSL (Freebox, Livebox, etc.)

7

     . Of which: VoIP (Skype, Messenger)

4

Total

100

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Source: CREDOC, Surveys "Conditions de vie et Aspirations des Français".