The uses of information and communication technologies in France: 2004

 
 
 
 
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Paris, 1st February 2005

For the second consecutive year, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) and Conseil Général des technologies de l’Information (CGTI) are jointly publishing the results of an annual survey, conducted on their behalf by CREDOC, on how information technologies (fixed and mobile telephony, computer, Internet) are used by people over 12 years of age.

The survey was conducted during face-to-face interviews in the month of June 2004, on a representative sample of the French population of 2 222 people, including 209 adolescents aged 12 to 17.

The 2004 survey confirms that information technologies continue to spread in France. As of June 2004, 56% of people in France have access to a computer either at home or at work, and 50% have used Internet. Moreover, 67% personally own a mobile telephone.

  • Telephony: mobile equipment rate accelerates and fixed phones continue to slow

One of the most notable changes this past year was the acceleration in the equipment rate for mobile telephones. Between June 2003 and June 2004, the rate rose from 62% to 67% of the population 12 years of age and over, rising 5 points; the previous year’s growth had been just 2 points.

Services accessible via mobile telephones are multiplying and becoming quickly adopted:

  • 58% of cellular telephone owners regularly send SMS
  • 29% download ring tones, logos and games
  • 18% consult voice services to obtain information such as weather forecasts, sports scores, train schedules, etc.
  • 13% send SMS+, to vote during television programmes, for example
  • 11% send MMS (images or music)
  • 8% surf on Internet using their cell phone

The number of fixed telephone subscribers continues to decline, especially among young people and those with a modest income. In June 2004, 15% of those interviewed stated they did not have a subscription to a fixed line in their home. In 2000, this figure was just 10%. We are clearly observing a substitution effect between fixed and mobile phones.

At the same time, competition is intensifying on this market: of those having a fixed line, one in four uses the services of more than one operator for certain calls. Four years ago, just one in ten did so.

  • Personal computer: half the population has one at home

Today, 53% of the French population has a personal computer. This percentage has risen five points in one year. Of these people, the vast majority effectively use it (87%) and 45% use their computer on a daily basis.

Fifty-six percent of people regularly use a computer outside their home. 83% of 12-17 year olds, 62% of students and 48% having a job use a computer at work or school.

In the workplace, the rate of effective use is somewhat variable: most people with a computer at work use it on a regular basis. There is a clear difference between upper management, of whom 79% use a computer at work, and labourers, with 18%. Among teens, just 4% have access to a computer at school every day, and 42% once or twice a week.

We continue to observe a significant disparity in the use of computers among the generations: 95% of 12-17 year olds use a computer, compared with just 22% of 60-69 year olds, and 5% of those over the age of 70. The difference in the equipment rate at home based on income is shrinking.

  • Internet: geographic disparities for broadband

In general, 56% of the population over the age of 12 has access to Internet, a 7 point increase over last year. In June 2004 :

  • 36% of the French population had an Internet connection at home (5 points more than in 2003). More than half (55%) have high speed.
  • 32% have access to Internet at work or school (+5 points)
  • 17% have already connected from public places such as Internet cafés (+1 point)

We also observed that differences based on city size are relatively small: 50% of residents of small towns have at least one access to Internet, compared with 65% of inhabitants of the greater Paris area. This difference reflects primarily the socio-demographic structure of the population, with residents of rural areas being older on average than urban residents.

Geographic coverage of ADSL is reflected in the use of high speed: in rural areas, 24% of those having Internet use it. In the Paris region, this figure is 75%.

Peer to peer: over eight million web surfers (31%) download music, films and software: this figure has remained stable from one year to the next, as it was already 30% in 2003.

Nine million people, or 17% of the population, report having made purchases over Internet in the past 12 months. This figure has been rising for the past several years, and should continue to rise as 20% of those never having made on-line purchases state they intend to do so in the next 12 months.


APPENDICES

PRELIMINARY NOTE

The survey was conducted during face-to-face interviews in the month of June 2004, on a representative sample of the French population of 2 222 people aged 12 years and over.

The survey describes the equipment and uses of individuals.

It is important to note that the equipment rate is the percentage of individuals having a certain piece of equipment in their home, and not the percentage of equipped households as is generally reported in other studies.

For example, according to this survey, 36% of the population 12 years old and over (or approximately 50 million people) had an Internet connection at home in June 2004, whereas INSEE estimates that 30% of the 24.7 million households had an Internet connection in January 2004. These two figures shouldn’t necessarily be the same, unless the household equipment rate isn’t related to its size, which isn’t the case (larger households have more equipment).

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

1 – FIXED AND MOBILE TELEPHONY

Another acceleration in the equipment rate for mobile telephones

This configuration is atypical. Until now, the growth in cellular telephone sales followed a relatively predictable, "S" curve. By extrapolating past trends, we expected an equipment rate of 64% for this year. However, the rate rose to 68% in June 2004, a rise of 6 points in a single year: something of a surprise.



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

New functions in cellular telephones energise demand

The success of SMS cannot be denied. The usage rate among people having a mobile telephone remains stable (58%), but the average number of messages sent is increasing (12 per week per user, compared with 11 in 2003: a 9% increase). SMS+ (surcharged) are somewhat less popular: 13% of mobile telephone users report having already sent an SMS+, the same as last year. On the other hand, the downloading of ring tones, logos and games on telephones has found a significant following: 29% of mobile telephone owners report having already paid for these types of services. This figure rises to an impressive 74% among teenagers! As a general rule, young people are among the first to adopt new technologies, and not just fun ones.

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

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Surfing on Internet and consulting e-mails via cellular telephone are still marginal practices (8% and 6% of cell owners, respectively), but are growing with respect to last year (+3 points and +2 points respectively).

The downward movement for equipment in fixed telephone continues slowly

Today, 84% of those 18 years and over have a fixed telephone line at their home, whereas that percentage was 90% just four years ago. People continue to replace their fixed line with a mobile subscription.

Certain groups can’t afford two telephone bills, so they prefer to have a cellular telephone: one-third of 18-24 year olds and people in households with an income of less than €900 per month do not have a subscription to a fixed line. The same is true for 29% of labourers.

More than half of the population currently has both a fixed telephone and a mobile telephone. The number of people having just a fixed telephone is rapidly declining. The number of people having just a mobile telephone is increasing.

Equipment in fixed or mobile telephone (as a %)

 

 

2003

2004

Change 2003-2004

Has a fixed telephone and a mobile telephone

50

53

+6%

Has only a fixed telephone

36

31

-14%

Has only a mobile telephone

12

14

+16%

Has no telephone (neither fixed, nor mobile)

2

1

N/S

Total

100

100

 

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

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One in four of persons with a fixed line subscribe to more than one fixed-line operator

The number of people having more than one fixed telephone subscriptions has been growing regularly for the past three years. Growth was strong between 2000 and 2001 (+7 points in one year), but has slowed since then (+2.7 points per year between 2001 and 2004).

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

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2 - COMPUTERS

Computer ownership tops the 50% mark

In June 2003, 48% of people 12 years old and over had a computer in their home, compared with 53% a year later. Three-quarters of teenagers live in a home with at least one computer, as do 85% of managers, and 65% of residents of the greater Paris area. On the other hand, less than one of every two labourers can afford a computer at home, and one in four of those aged 60-69.

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

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When there is a computer in the home, almost everyone uses it

The personal usage rate is 87%, and close to half of people use it every day. The most hesitant to try are those with no higher education: 45% of these never use a computer at home. The computer is still perceived as a complicated machine. Those who have never used a computer at school or work are hesitant to try.

Outside the home, 56% of the French population regularly uses a computer. Eighty-three percent of teenagers, 62% of students and 48% of the employed use a computer at work or school. Nevertheless, the intensity of effective use is variable: most people with a computer at work use one on a regular basis, whereas just 4% of 12-17 year olds can use a computer at school everyday, and 42% just once or twice a week.

More specifically, the overall population can be divided into four groups

  • Frequent users: use a computer everyday, either at work or at home. They represent 36% of the population. Of these, many are upper management (80% of these are frequent users), college or university graduates, and high school, college and university students, under the age of 40.
  • Regular users: use a computer once or twice a week, but not more frequently. They represent 12% of the population. Twelve to 24 year olds, high school, and college and university students are over-represented in this group.
  • Occasional users: 8% of the population belong to this group. They use a computer less than once a week.
  • People never using a computer: 44% of the population. Half of these people are 60 years of age or over (1/4 of the entire population), and over 80% have not completed the basic high school diploma (56% of the entire population).

Depending on the survey, price continues to be the primary obstacle to purchasing a computer

Twenty-nine percent of individuals, whether users or not, consider that the fact that "computers are not useful for daily life" can be an obstacle to purchasing a computers; this rate is down 2 points from 2003. According to respondents, the excessively high price remains the primary obstacle to purchasing a computer, although this argument is mentioned less frequently than last year (62% compared with 67% in 2003). On the other hand, criticisms of user friendliness and the complexity of use are up. Forty-one percent of the population considers that computers are too complicated to use (+3 points in one year); 26% considers there to be too much equipment, accessories and software to be installed (+5 points). As a general rule, we are observing in French society the emergence of a demand for quality of service.

3 - INTERNET

In June 2004, 36% of the population 12 years old and over had an Internet connection at home

This is 5 points higher than in 2003. More than half of respondents (55%) state they have a high-speed connection. Of those people having an Internet connection, the location of their residence is the most significant factor in having access to high speed: 75% of residents of the greater Paris area have high speed, compared with just 24% of rural residents. The differences according to level of education, income, age or profession are much less significant.

It is becoming difficult to not have a computer, and to not have Internet access, generally high speed, especially for families with children.

In all, 56% of the population 12 years old and over has access to Internet, 7 points more than the previous year

Thirty-two percent of those 12 and over have access to Internet either at work or school (+5 points), 17% have already accessed Internet in public places such as Internet cafés (+1 point). Including those who have access but never use it, 50% of people are effectively familiar with the web.

Differences based on city size are relatively minor: 50% of inhabitants of rural areas have at least one access to Internet, compared with 65% of residents of the greater Paris area. Moreover, this gap reflects to a large part the socio-demographic structure of the population: residents of rural areas are older on average than urban residents.

Of the 17% of the population who use Internet in public places, 6% do not have access at home, work or at school. In other words, without this public access, there would be 3 million fewer surfers in France, although the home computer remains the best means of connection.

The percentage of surfers already having downloaded music, software or videos from Internet has not changed from one year to the next

Thirty-one percent of surfers have already used peer-to-peer networks. This practice continues to be significant, but has not increased, as it was already 30% in June 2003.

Nine million people, or 17% of the population, report having made purchases on line in the past twelve months.

This figure has been rising constantly for several years and 20% of those people who have never made purchases on line state that they intend to do so in the next twelve months. The most popular purchases are books or CDs (55%), followed by train or plane tickets (45%) and computer hardware and services (39%). Only 6% of these customers ordered food via Internet.


Linked documents

The 2004 study is available for  consultation  and downloading  zip (zip - 343 Ko)  /  pdf (pdf - 1.76 Mo)  fr
 slides (ppt - 130 Ko)  of the press conference fr