The number of traditional text messages being sent in Ireland has continued to fall, according to ComReg, as customers turn increasingly to data-based messaging apps instead.

There were more than 1.78 billion SMS sent in the first quarter of this year, according to the communications regulator, down 11.8% year-on-year.

This is also more than 45% lower than the figure recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011, when SMS usage peaked at 3.25 billion messages sent.

The number of minutes spent on mobile calls also fell in the first three months of the year when compared to the end of 2014, with 3.01 billion minutes dedicated to mobile calls – down 1%.

The last quarter was the highest on record for mobile call minutes, however, with the most recent period still well ahead of the figure recorded in the same three months of 2014.

Meanwhile, mobile data usage has continued to grow rapidly – rising more than 15% in the quarter and 86.4% in the year to reach 25.9 terabytes in the first quarter of 2015.

Contributing to this was the growth of 4G services, with 13% of all mobile subscribers now actively using the faster standard according to ComReg.

In the fixed line market, the regulator said there was a 4.8% rise in broadband subscriptions in the year to March, which stood at 1.27 million by that time.

The average speed enjoyed by these subscribers was also rising, according to ComReg, with 48.1% on connections promising speeds of 30Mbps or more – compared to 37.7% a year ago.

ComReg says that the estimated household broadband penetration rate – which includes mobile broadband figures in its calculation – stood at 80% by the end of March.

Meanwhile the number of fixed voice services was down 1% in the quarter to 1.57 million, however as people continued to migrate to mobile-only phone connections.