Swedes sent more SMS messages than made phone calls for the first time last year, the national telecommunications authority said Thursday.

The number of phone text messages boomed from 9.9 billion in 2008 to 16.3 billion last year, it said, adding that this averaged to about 1,600 messages per client annually. Phone calls fell from 14.2 billion to 13.8 billion over the period.

The 65 percent hike was due to two reasons: cheaper rates for text messages and free SMS services offered by some operators, said Mattias Viklund, an official with the authority.

Sweden tops the world in mobile phone penetration with 91 percent owning cellphones against an average of 81 percent for the European Union.

There were a total of 11.6 subscriptions last year, of which 9.14 million were personal. Sweden's population is 9.34 million.