Ofcom has outlined its programme of work to ensure that consumers receive value for money and a good quality of service from their communications providers.
While customer satisfaction with communications services is generally high, Ofcom is focused on further improving consumers’ experience across the sectors it regulates. This work is informed by findings in its annual Consumer Experience Report.
Alongside this, Ofcom has carried out analysis of price and quality trends over time, and is publishing this in the Cost and Value Report. This reveals that, over the past 10 years, consumers have benefited from significant reductions in prices across most communications services and that the UK compares favourably against international comparators.
At the same time, consumers say that landline phone, broadband, mobile, and pay TV compare favourably on value for money relative to other services. They are spending less but receiving more.
Ofcom’s work is focused on further improving the value and quality of communications services and helping consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. This includes:
– Implementing new measures to help customers switch their landline and broadband provider more easily, while protecting them from having their lines switched accidentally or without their consent. In the coming months Ofcom will be looking at how to improve switching for other services.
– A review to assess whether key communications services are affordable, particularly for the least well off consumers.
– Publishing quality of service information to help consumers compare the performance of mobile networks and to incentivise providers to improve. Ofcom will be carrying out research into the quality of mobile reception and coverage.
– Ofcom will also publish new data revealing 3G and 4G mobile broadband performance and will ensure near-universal coverage of 4G mobile, up to 98 per cent outdoors by 2017 at the latest.
– Protecting consumers from harm. Ofcom is ensuring consumers are better protected against unexpected mid-contract price rises. And working with industry, Government and other regulators, Ofcom is also focused on tackling nuisance calls and bill shock.
– Publish information on the best and worst performing providers and ensure consumers have complaints dealt with effectively
– Providing information and advice to help protect consumers and enable them to make informed choices about services, products and providers.
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said: “The quality and value of communications services matters as much as their availability. The record in the last decade is good but we are determined to maintain focus on these important areas to ensure that communications markets continue to work in the best interests of consumers”.
Ofcom has published a report on the Cost and Value of Communications Services in the UK over the last 10 years. The main findings from the report are:
The average amount spent on a residential fixed broadband connection has decreased by 48 per cent over eight years (from £31.79 in 2004 to £16.38 per month in 2012).
This decline has occurred against a backdrop of increased broadband take-up (6 per cent in 2003 compared to 72 per cent in 2013) and wider availability and take-up of higher speed broadband packages.
Since November 2008, the average UK residential fixed-line broadband speed has increased from 3.6 Mbit/s to 14.7 Mbit/s in May 2013.
Average spending on pay-TV services among households that subscribe to them has remained consistent in real terms over the last decade at around £40 per month (£40.60 per month in 2003 compared to £40.37 in 2012).
Some pay-TV customers have, however, experienced real-term price increases for certain packages. At the same time, the choice of pay-TV offerings has expanded with new high-definition, 3D TV and online TV services.