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Ofcom study: How different groups use comms services

January 14, 2019

Differences in how certain groups use communications services are explained in regulator Ofcom’s latest Access and Inclusion research report.

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.

Ofcom’s 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 per cent) than average (40 per cent).
  • Disabled people are generally less likely than non-disabled people to use most services and devices. For example, 53 per cent of disabled people have a smartphone in their household, compared with 81 per cent of non-disabled people. While 67 per cent of disabled people use the internet, compared to 92 per cent 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 per cent) and 16-24 year-olds (17 per cent) are the most likely to struggle to pay for these services. Conversely, older people are the least likely to have struggled, with just 2 per cent of over 75s highlighting affordability problems.
  • 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.

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