Communications 2018 – Access and Inclusion experiencesSarah Shepherd
Ofcom’s latest research into Access and Inclusion has highlighted the different experiences that consumers are encountering in their usage of communications services. Factors such as people’s age, income or disabilities all affect the affordability, take-up and engagement with phone, TV and postal services.
The research found that whilst landline ownership dropped in 2018, the number of over 75’s living in a mobile only household has risen to 6%. And whilst this age group has increasingly adopted smart phones (with now nearly one in five owning one), they prefer to use larger devices to access the internet. Just under half of this age group also still do not have home broadband. In contrast, over a third of the youngest age group (16-24) live in a mobile-only household.
Three in ten of the ‘most financially vulnerable’ group are living in households without any internet access and 8% access only through a mobile. Disabled people too are less likely to use communications services and devices with only 67% of disabled people using the internet compared to 92% of non-disabled people, although usage does vary according to the type of disability.
As the future of voice telephony will be increasingly dependent on having an internet connection, this demographic will undoubtedly require particular care to ensure that they are both protected and informed about the impact of the PSTN migration moving away from traditional telephony.
The potential for confusion and a reluctance to engage in the market is also more marked amongst older consumers, those in DE households and people with a disability. The knock-on effects of this lack of confidence is a potentially lower participation in society, a greater possibility of financial harm through miss-selling or ability to access the best deals and understanding what can be a complex world of services and offers.