Internet usage in Hungary

The importance of digital ecosystem on the population, businesses and the public sector is undisputable.

A study carried out by the European Commission showed that by 2030, the cumulative additional GDP contribution of new digital technologies could amount to €2.2 trillion in the EU, which is a 14.1 per cent increase from 20171.

According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2020, however, Hungary ranked 21st out of the 28 EU Member States. Over the last few years, its score improved broadly in line with the EU average.

Based on data prior to the Covid-19 pandemic

  • Hungary ranks highest on broadband Connectivity,
  • It still lags behind in Digital public services and in the Integration of digital technologies in businesses,
  •  On Human capital, over half of the population lacks basic digital skills and software skills,
  • Overall, the use of internet services in Hungary is broadly comparable with or is above the EU average with regard to the number of internet users, the use of social networks, reading news online, making video calls, etc. On the other hand, only 7% of internet users took part in e-learning activities. Despite the improvements, Hungary still performs below average on online transactions (e.g.: e-commerce, e-banking).

Research methodology

For the research, the following methodology elements were applied:

  • desk research
  • overview of former research projects (e.g.: EU Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2020, Hungarian NRA’s research studies, EU, Connectivity report, 2020, GSMA, The 5G Guide, 2019, etc.)
  • quantitative research (CATI, over the age of 18 in a nationally representative sample of 1000 people) based on a questionnaire.

The questionnaire is based on a computer-assisted telephone survey (CATI) in which interviewers record the answers of the respondents directly on the computer.

Sampling took place in several steps, first we selected the settlement sample so that the selected settlements represent the settlement network of Hungary proportionally to both region and settlement size. We then generated a list of phone numbers and finally, in the case of landline phone numbers, the respondent was randomly selected with a birthday key. Finally, we quota the selection according to the most important socio-demographic factors (gender, age, education). If the sample is distorted, it is also possible to correct it later by iterative weighting.

The advantage of this method is that the data collection is more cost effective than the personal query, as well as the data collection time is shorter. Recording on a computer also makes it possible to securely record questionnaires with more complex criteria. It is also suitable for learning standardized opinions as well as ensuring representativeness. A sample of 1,000 people, representative of gender, age group, type of settlement and education, can provide accurate results nationwide.

The research took place 5-25 August, 2020. The data reported in the analysis could at the end deviate by no more than plus or minus 3.1 percentage points from the sampling that would have resulted from interviewing all adult residents in the country. Overall, the research contributes to the better understanding of the attitude of the Hungarian population towards 5G technology which is present in some of the most important policy documents of the European Union (e.g.: Europe’s 5G Action Plan Recovery and Resilience Facility Connecting Europe Facility, Shaping Europe's digital future, etc.)

Short description of the objectives of the work

The aim was to

carry out a regular (annual) survey of the population on knowledge and expectations related to internet use,

high-speed networks, and especially 5G service and applications, as well as on possible fears and resentments.

  • The research aimed to
  • Demonstrate usage patterns for broadband services (fixed, mobile, download/upload speed breakdown, loyalty time, availability, service packages, frequency of use, etc.) in a residential dimension (including new technologies / e.g. 5G, NB IoT / is);
  • take into account the devices held by the population (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphones, other smart devices) and the service portfolio used for them;
  • describe the different areas of usage (e.g. communication, browsing, administration, entertainment, etc.);
  • present past dynamics of the use of the digital services concerned (secondary source analysis by number, proportion of users and other dimensions, e.g. age, education, place of residence, gender, where comparable results are available);
  • map attitudes towards usage (what benefits respondents attribute to the use of the services surveyed, what risks they see in use, on what platform(s) and device(s), in what life situation they use it, etc.);
  • Describe the expectations (user-friendliness, availability, simple interface, etc.) associated with each service (including the 5G service), as well as any resentments, fears, and customer satisfaction with the services;
  • assess the expectations of the population regarding the 5G service, the awareness of the service and the different use cases, the general information of the population, possible reservations and misconceptions;
  • reveal the reasons for not using these services;
  • look for answers to

             - what extent exit restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 have changed the number of Internet     subscriptions (fixed and mobile) and bandwidth requirements;

             - to what extent there is a reorientation towards lower bandwidth packages after the restrictions are lifted.

  • analyze whether the situation identified requires policy, regulatory or public policy interventions by the government.

Results of the research

Smartphones are the most used digital devices by Hungarian households. According to our research the smartphone penetration is 85,7%.

Over 78 percentage of the Hungarian households have access to fixed broadband internet. The reasons for not having fixed broadband connection at home are: lack of need, lack of skills to use the Internet, price of the service, lack of device, lack of fixed broadband in the vicinity neighbourhood (access to the network).

The mobile broadband take-up is still well below the EU average. According to our research, the mobile internet penetration (subscriptions/ 100 people) is around 65 percentage (below the DESI value)2. The reasons for not using mobile internet are very similar to those mentioned above (no need, lack of skills, usage is difficult, etc.) The one difference is regarding pricing: one third of the population consider the devices and services being overly expensive.

Our research found that the Covid-19 pandemic had no significant impact on the adoption of neither fixed or mobile internet usage.

One of the main focuses of the study was to get a clearer picture on the knowledge of the Hungarian population concerning 5G services. Our research showed that 71 percentage of the adult population have already heard about this new technology.

Out of those who said that they have heard about 5G technology 73 percent answered, they also know about the existence of 5G services in Hungary. 68,8 percent think 5G brings more significant additional experience not just for businesses but for the population as well. Nevertheless, 67 percent answered that there are people who attribute negative effects of 5G on people’s health. More than half of the respondents said 5G can pave the way for new business models and 48,7 percent think 5G promotes the use of smart city solutions.

Follow-up work

The research is likely to be carried out regarding micro enterprises in the near future. The aim of that study is to analyze this business segment regarding

  • indicators covered by DESI (especially the “integration of digital services” pillar)
  • other indicators not covered by DESI (number of digital devices, fixed/broadband penetration, central IT infrastructure, use of digital solutions, IT security, etc.)
  • Use and attitude of/towards digital services (e-commerce, e-banking, etc.) – with high regard to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Scientific outcome from the research

ESI covers only a specific field of indicators aiming to measure the achievements of EU countries on digitalization. It does not reflect on the behaviour, attitudes, expectations, fears about and the reasons for staying away from internet usage. DESI doesn’t cover the issues regarding 5G technology either (DESI only measures the frequencies allocated to 5G) and the effects of COVID-19 pandemic are also not reflected in the index.

Therefore, the aim of our research was to fill up the existing gaps and supplement all those areas that are not covered with any of the international indicators, indexes concerning the different aspects (devices, access, attitudes, fears, expectations, satisfaction, 5G knowledge, etc.) of digitalization.


[2] According to DESI 2020, 4G penetration was 70% in Hungary. Source: 

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