A survey released this week by the UK’s communications watchdog has confirmed the public’s changing opinion of ‘essential communications’ as well as their affordability.
A new study has revealed that, as well as the old standard landline, consumers now on the whole consider having internet access to be an essential, as well as mobile phones — for talk, texts and data.
Around six out of ten of respondents to a survey, designed to highlight the gap between what consumers consider ‘essential’ and whether they can afford it, say they place great importance on each of the three communications methods.
61% of consumers said that voice services — mobile or landline — were essential, while 59% said the same for mobile voice or text. Interestingly, 57% of those questioned reported that having personal internet access was essential too — presumably for its ability to send and receive emails as well as keeping up with friends through social media.
Affording the price of communications
Among those surveyed, 14% said that they had experienced difficulty affording their bills for landline, mobile or internet — despite the falling prices illustrated in January’s Consumer Experience report.
Although the prices now are much more competitive than they once were — BT’s first ADSL broadband line in 2007 was priced at just over £57 per month! — there is still a concern about the 14% who have problems paying for the services which the survey has overwhelmingly deemed to be essential in 2014.
By 2005 the average cost of a monthly broadband bill was almost £32, while these days the cheapest available residential broadband is £6.49 — that’s a standalone account which does not come packaged with TV and landline as so many companies are now able to provide for customers.
A good deal on communications
As broadband usage both within the home and the country has grown more popular, so providers have tried to bring down their costs to encourage new customers. Now that the average laptop or desktop computer is online for an average of 35 hours a week — not including mobile devices such as tablets or phones — the interest is there for providers to up their game even further and, in doing so, try to appeal to those 14% of respondents who are currently making sacrifices to pay their bills. Just under half of those who struggle cut back on luxuries in order to afford the payments, while about a third buy cheaper household goods and other services to make up the shortfall.
7% of those surveyed said they would like to have a broadband connection in their home but currently cannot afford it.
Ofcom is currently looking at ways to ensure an even higher rate of ‘connected’ UK consumers, and regularly publishes a guide for consumers for getting the best deal on their communications.
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