More Canadian adults are talking on their cell phones than ever before, according to an annual Wireless Telephony study released on Friday by market research firm NFO CFgroup in Toronto.

By February 2003, 62 per cent of Canadian adults owned cell phones as compared to 57 per cent in November 2001, and the number of Web-enabled cell phone users is up to 12 per cent from eight per cent November 2001 – an increase of 50 per cent.

The NFO Cfgroup credits an increase in the number of online services and increased content as driving the growth of Web-enabled cell phone users. While getting access to e-mail is the number one reason for owning these phones, the research firm says an increasing number of people are accessing the Web via cell phone for entertainment and information purposes.

While inter-carrier messaging has been available since April 2002, the number of Canadians text messaging is stagnant, the company said. Inter-carrier messaging means that users can send text messages to people who subscribe to a different mobile carrier. Since inter-carrier messaging has been available, the volume of text messages has increased – but not the number of new users. The NFO Cfgroup noted this is an area of potential growth.

Also, one-third of Canadians with Internet access via cell phone own phones with built-in digital cameras and another one-third said they are interested in getting one. Adults aged 18 to 43 showed the greatest amount of interest in this technology, the NFO Cfgroup says.

Other findings include: 19 per cent of Canadians who have Web-enabled phones find personal digital assistants (PDAs) with telephones appealing, and three in 10 mobile Internet users are interested in videophones but overall, 57 per cent of respondents were not at all interested in seeing the person they’re talking to.

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