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Cable.co.uk comment on new Ofcom report: Rocketing line rental prices, usage plummeting, Britain's elderly footing the bill

  • Ofcom report highlights sharp year-on-year rises in UK line rental prices
  • Average UK consumer paid £1 per month more for line rental in 2015 than they did in 2014 (an inflation-busting rise of nearly 6%)
  • Meanwhile, wholesale prices are dropping
  • Landline usage primarily to blame. Call volumes have fallen by more than a third (37%) between 2009 and 2014
  • Ofcom raises concern over "vulnerable consumers" who it says are "least able to afford price increases"

10 February 2016: At 10:27 this morning, Ofcom released its tenth annual consumer experience report. The report covers a wide range of consumer telecoms topics, tracking year-on-year average household spends for communications services, service performance, ease of switching and accessibility.

An especially interesting aspect of this report is the rising cost of line rental to UK consumers. Ofcom outlines the freefall of fixed line usage since 2009 – and the resultant loss of voice call revenues to the providers – as a key factor in these rises. It also expresses concern for "vulnerable consumers" who it highlights as least likely to be able to foot the increasingly daunting line rental bill.

The full report is available here

Commenting on Ofcom's findings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said:

“Ofcom's concerns are completely justified. The problem, of course, is an unavoidable one. As we increasingly rely on our mobiles, calls over fixed lines – and by proxy the revenues they generate for the providers – plummet, so the shortfall has to be made up somehow.

"Whether the solution to this problem is to stealthily ratchet up line rental costs year-on-year, however, is questionable. Around 10% of UK households have a landline with no broadband connection, the majority of that 10% over the age of 75.

"If the price of broadband packages in the UK needs to go up a little to support the infrastructural costs being compensated for by these line rental increases then so be it, but it is simply not reasonable to expect those for whom landlines are a primary – and often only – lifeline to foot the bill."

Notes to editors

If using our research and/or commentary we would deeply appreciate a link either to this page or to https://www.cable.co.uk


What is Cable?

Cable is a broadband, TV and phone comparator, unique news source and consumer champion.

Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades, running research fieldwork both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, as well as more formally operating in the role of its Director of Communications and Content.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer, Dan has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers. Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality, administered Cable’s Broadband Service Quality Awards and sat on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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