HomeInsightsOfcom publishes an Access and Inclusion research report showing the differences in how certain groups use communications services

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The report looks at how affordability, take-up and engagement with telecoms, TV and postal services compares across different groups. It focuses on people whose use of different services and devices could be affected by factors such as their age, disability or income.

The findings include:

  • the way older consumers use telephones is changing: just under one in five over 75s now use a smartphone, and the proportion of people in this group who only use a mobile phone at home (without a landline) has increased;
  • people who are most financially vulnerable are less likely to have all of the main communications services – landline, mobile, broadband and pay TV: those that do have a fixed broadband connection are less likely to report having a superfast connection (28%) than average (40%);
  • disabled people are generally less likely than non-disabled people to use most services and devices: for example, 53% of disabled people have a smartphone in their household, compared with 81% of non-disabled people. While 67% of disabled people use the internet, compared to 92% of non-disabled people;
  • some vulnerable people have had difficulty paying for communications services in the last year: people with long-term mental illnesses (33%) and 16-24 year-olds (17%) are the most likely to struggle to pay for these services. Conversely, older people are the least likely to have struggled, with just 2% of over 75s highlighting affordability problems; and
  • for most markets, at least one in five people have made a change to their service or switched provider in the last year: this rises to one in four for people who have landline, TV and broadband bought together.

Ofcom says it has taken a range of actions to help protect vulnerable consumers recently, including securing a £7 per month line rental cut for BT’s landline-only customers; capping call charges for directory enquiry services; and introducing rules requiring companies to identify and protect vulnerable customers.

Ofcom also recently launched the Boost Your Broadband campaign to offer consumers advice on how to get the best broadband deal for their needs. The regulator has also launched a review of broadband pricing, which is examining why some customers pay more than others for their services. To access the report, click here.