A large majority of Swiss are convinced of the benefits of mobile phone use and have become less concerned about potential health risks, according to a survey.
The poll, commissioned by Switzerland's leading telephone providers, said 86 per cent of the adult population now owned a mobile phone.
Around 80 per cent of those surveyed said practical benefits were the main reason they owned a phone, and that the electronic device had become less of a status symbol over the years.
The research institute, gfs.bern, found that 55 per cent of users were worried about health risks associated with mobile phone use, but the figure was significantly lower than the 66 per cent who expressed concern in 2004.
Correspondingly, a smaller majority than the last survey said residents should have a say where antennas are placed, and that limits be placed on their proliferation.
The study also revealed the dilemma faced by parents who disapprove, in principle, of their children owning handsets but who want to remain in touch with their offspring at all times.
A Swiss youngster receives on average his or her first phone at age 13 although only 36 per cent of the adults surveyed thought it wise for children to have them because of the ability to download pornographic and violent content.
The Senate voted just last week in favour of banning the commercial distribution of pornography on mobile phones, despite opposition from the government which said such a ban was unnecessary because it was already illegal to give under-16s access to pornographic images.
Not surprisingly, the institute found that professionals were the most likely to make phone calls and use office applications available on their devices, while younger people tended to send more text messages.
According to the latest statistics provided by the federal office for communication, making calls or sending messages is expensive in Switzerland compared with the European average.
Yet, experts say the popularity of mobile phones will not wane any time soon. According to the UMTS Forum – an international association of phone companies, users have a more "emotional relationship with their mobile phones than with any other form of information and communication technology".
The UMTS Forum said mobile users often use "emoticons" (such as a smiley face) in communications with each other. The use of "smiley faces" and the like to express feelings through text is notably higher in mobile messaging than in email, it concluded.
swissinfo with agencies
The poll was carried out by the gfs institute for the Mobile Communication Forum.
The forum represents Switzerland's three main mobile phone providers, Swisscom, Sunrise and Orange, as well as manufacturers Sony Ericsson and Nokia.
Its goal is to overcome opposition to antenna sites and fears of electromagnetic radiation by serving as a platform for information and dialogue.
In 2005, according to a European Union report, the mobile telephony penetration rate (households using mobile phones) in Switzerland, was at 89%, slightly less than the average for EU countries (91%).
Switzerland was in 19th position among EU25 countries. Eight countries reported penetration rates above 100%: Sweden (101%), Britain (103%), Estonia (104%), Czech Republic (105%), Portugal (106%), Italy (111%), Lithuania (117%) and Luxembourg (150%).
Poland (71%), France (76%) and Latvia (79%) are the only countries that had not exceeded 80%.
Measured in terms of consumers, the largest markets are in Germany, Italy and Britain. Together, the users in these three countries make up 47% of the subscribers counted in the member countries of the Union.
In Switzerland the proportion of post-paid and prepaid users is pretty much similar to those of Slovenia, France and Estonia for example. In these countries, around 60% of customers tend to prefer to pay their mobile phone bill at a later date.
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