Ofcom: Mobile, Broadband, Landline Services Cheaper Than Ten Years Ago

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Ofcom says consumers are getting more for less thanks to strong competition

Ofcom has pledged to continue protecting consumer interests after revealing that the average monthly cost of mobile, landline and broadband subscriptions has fallen in the last ten years, but customers have received new services, such as fibre and 4G.

According to the regulator’s latest report, the average monthly spend on mobile services has fallen by 23 percent in real terms from £24.99 in 2003 to £19.13 in 2012, while users have been able to take advantage of new services such as 3G and 4G.

The number of voice calls has more than doubled from 54 billion to 128 billion, the number of texts has risen from 24 billion to 172 billion, while mobile data use doubled between 2011 and 2012 alone.

Falling prices

British money change cheap £5 £2 £1 © J and S Photography ShutterstockThe cost of broadband has decreased by 48 percent from £31.79 in 2004 to £16.38 in 2012, with adoption increasing from six percent in 2003 to 72 percent last year and average speeds jumping from 3.6Mbps in November 2008 to 14.7 Mbps in May 2013.

Landline subscriptions have fallen by 28.5% from £29.71 in 2003 to £21.47 in 2012, but Ofcom says it is noticing that the cost of some standalone packages is increasing. Despite the fact most consumers receive telephone services through bundles, it says it will monitor the situation.

The communications regulator claims that the cost of communication services in the UK compares favourably to those in the rest of the world and that customer satisfaction is generally high, but says it will continue to ensure the quality and value of these services improves in the future.

Consumer protection

“The quality and value of communications services matters as much as their availability,” says Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom. “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 says it will continue to ensure that landline and broadband installations and faults are repaired quickly by BT Openreach, which manages the UK’s copper network, while it also make it easier to switch providers.

It says it will also conduct a review to ensure that the most important services are affordable, while it will also better protect consumers against mid-contract price rises, nuisance calls and bill shock. Additionally, the regulator will also continue to publish complaint information, compare network performance and offer advice on services and products.

Much more to do

“Brits are paying less for their mobiles, their broadband and their TV. Plus, these services are also becoming more widely available – so it’s no wonder satisfaction is on the up,” comments Adam Kirby, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “Telecoms customers are a happier bunch than other bill-payers across other utilities and essential services.

“But while news of happy customers is welcome, Ofcom still has plenty to do, such as eliminating nuisance calls, improving rural broadband coverage and protecting mobile users from unexpected bills – both at home and abroad.

“There are also plenty of unhappy customers who aren’t voting with their feet and moving to a better deal. Until the regulator’s work to make switching more straightforward takes full effect, not everyone will feel confident enough to make the most of such a competitive market.”

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