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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

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Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades. Having spent 12 years at the coalface of consumer telecoms research, initiating and running projects both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now Director of Communications and in-house consumer telecoms expert for Cable.co.uk.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer who frequently appears on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers and their websites, Dan leads a team of journalists and communications folk who spend their days researching and reporting on problems faced by UK broadband, TV and mobile customers both on an individual and macro level.

Dan campaigns on many issues currently facing consumers of broadband, TV and mobile products in the UK. These include, but are not limited to: Rural broadband provision; mobile coverage; broadband, TV and mobile customer contract issues; broadband and mobile broadband speeds; switching and money-saving; infrastructural challenges; pricing, changes and structures; shifts in technology and the marketplace; telecoms regulation, policy and law; fines, adjudications and policy changes; mergers and closures of UK providers; annual financials and more.

Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality. He also administers and adjudicates the yearly Broadband Service Quality Awards and sits on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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