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Broadband Switching Declines as Hard Up Brits See Slower Speeds

Monday, January 14th, 2019 (2:10 pm) - Score 7,585
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Ofcom has today published a new report, which examines how affordability, take-up and engagement with UK telecoms, TV and postal services compares via different groups. Overall 13% of broadband and phone consumers switched ISP (down from 17% a year ago) and financially vulnerable people are less likely to have “superfast” speeds.

The Access and Inclusion in 2018 (PDF) report notes that people classified as being the “most financially vulnerable” are less likely to have a landline, mobile, fixed broadband and / or pay TV service and are more likely than average to live in a mobile-only household (28% vs an average of 21%).

Meanwhile 1% of households in the above group say they have neither a landline nor a mobile and 3 in 10 live in households without any internet access, while 8% have access only via a mobile. The most financially vulnerable who do have broadband are also “significantly less likely than average” to have a 30Mbps+ superfast broadband ISP connection (28% vs 40%); most likely due to the higher costs involved.

Elsewhere switching (changing provider) remains highest for the dual-play (broadband and phone) market, although it has declined a bit in the past year. In the pay-TV market switching also declined: from 8% in 2017 to 5% in 2018. Plus some 7% of consumers have switched landline provider in the stand-alone market in the past 12 months, and the same proportion have switched at least one service in their triple-play bundle (broadband, phone and TV). However mobile switching remains unchanged at 10%.

switching providers 2018

As you’d expect, seeking to reduce costs remains the main prompt for switching among dual-play, triple-play and pay-TV stand-alone customers, followed by finding a better deal with another provider. For mobile customers, it was the reverse; finding a better price/deal with another provider (37%) was more important than seeking to reduce current costs (28%).

Price rises by an existing ISP were also a factor that encouraged switching among dual-play (30%) and triple-play (31%) customers.

Internet Related Highlights from the Report:

* Some 49% of those with internet at home have sent a parcel in the last month compared to 21% of those without the internet. Those with internet sent an average of 2.1 parcels in the last month compared to 1.0 sent by those without the internet.

* Half of older (65+) dual-play customers are either out of contract (25%) or do not know their contract status (24%), significantly higher than average (38% combined).

* Dual-play customers in the ‘most financially vulnerable’ segment are also less certain of their contract status i.e. 19% are unsure if their contract has ended vs. 12% of those in the least financially vulnerable segment.

* Dual-play consumers aged 55+ are more likely than other age groups to say they struggle to understand the language and terminology used (43% vs. 15%).

* Broadband customers aged 65+ are less confident than average about speaking to their current provider about deals (75% vs. 88%), as are broadband customers with a disability (78%).

* Older broadband consumers are significantly less likely than average to have ever changed their broadband provider (55% of broadband customers aged 65+ vs. 65% average).

* Landline (phone) ownership fell significantly in 2018 and has coincided with a rise in the number of people aged 75+ living in mobile-only households (up to 6%).

Over the past couple of years Ofcom has taken a range of actions to help protect vulnerable consumers, including securing a £7 per month line rental cut for BT’s landline-only customers, as well as capping call charges for directory enquiry services (118) and introducing rules requiring companies to identify and protect vulnerable customers.

The regulator has also begun a review of broadband pricing and they’re introducing a new system of contract notification letters, which will help to keep consumers informed about what they’re currently paying for and whether or not there may be cheaper options available.

The forthcoming 10Mbps USO may also help those in the most digitally disadvantaged areas to access a faster and more affordable broadband connection (due end of 2019).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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16 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Perhaps if there was some real (infrastructure) competition people would be more likely to swap…

    • Avatar TheFacts

      There is for more than 50% of properties.

    • Avatar 5G Infinity

      I think that is very valid, with over 80% of FTTC BT Openreach delivered then the difference between suppliers is minimal. You will get the speed the distance your cabinet is away from you dictates, you will pay at a basic level pretty much the same for that speed (biggest driver here is the ability of the ISP to lower costs/increase capacity on the backhaul from the exchange) and most the difference will be any additional service you purchase and then its down to how much that ISP spends on advertising and cost of customer acquisition, all of which has to be recovered by margin on the cost of sale.

  2. Avatar Name

    In most cases the choice is like between HIV and hepatitis.

  3. Avatar Chris Hewitt

    I think you should be able to cancel your broadband contract by filling out a form on the providers website. I expect some people stick with their provider as they are put off by the hard sell when they have to phone up to cancel.

    • Avatar Tim

      Companies don’t want it to be that easy to cancel their services for that very reason.

    • Avatar Groucho

      I’m in the ‘over 65 and reluctant to change’ band. Our contract with the Post Office was due for renewal, so I rang the other day. It was painless, and ended up cheaper than we have paid for the last 18 months! I was pleasantly surprised.

  4. Avatar Jigsy

    What’s the point of changing ISPs when they all use the same crappy, century old network that BT just obstinately refuses to upgrade (or very slowly in the lucky areas)?

    • Avatar Spurple

      Agree. Can’t see the point of switching from Virgin Media when there’s no competition in speed for barely £10 a month lower. If VM raise my prices past a comfortable threshold, I just drop down one speed tier.

  5. Avatar FibreBubble

    No Demand it’s all about price. Altcos can only sign punters up when they use anti-competitive tactics such as newbuild lockouts.

  6. Avatar Phil

    The issue is that all these companies are locking people in for 18 months to 2 years. I’d love to switch but basically can’t unless I pay through the nose, ofcom should force these companies to a maximum of 6 month contract.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Providers have standard monthly non contract prices. The discounted offers (including freebies) have to be for a set period to make them viable. Longer the contracts the more they can “offer” and greater the advertising impact. Long contracts are also used retain market share.

      Ofcom are following Government policy of an open market however they are already taking action regarding ISPs notifying customers regarding contract cessation. If people do not take action then its their fault. If you don’t like to be tied to a particular supplier then its a personal choice same as electricity, gas and many other services where without contract or shorter contracts you will invariably pay more.

  7. Avatar Meadmodj

    Consumers have a limit to what they are prepared to pay but are unlikely to change unless there is a significant increase in cost or poor service reliability. Changing electricity or gas provider does not require any changes in the house or reconfiguring stuff but changing broadband provider for many still requires the assistance of a friend or relative and there is no guarantee that the ISP service or the advice received will be any better and those that include TV are used to their remote and menus.

    ADSL prices are rising and FTTC remains high to retain revenues. FTTP has to pay its way so entry level products will also be high (initial aggressive pricing cannot be sustained). The alternative 4G Mobile Broadband (100Gbps cap) is around £35/m. Ofcom are promising a USO at 10Mbps but we know the offered products will still be in the same price ranges and there will be pressure to up-sell.

    So the issue for Ofcom is; where is a socially inclusive entry product?.

    Many users are already moving to tethering which meets those out at work and where a mobile is more dominant in their world. Those at home all day can, with the appropriate device, can still use a corded phone and combine it with broadband with a simple mobile/sim package for £25/m (unlimited) or less if their internet use is moderate and they can utilise a capped service.

    So unless Ofcom make changes I can see the percentage of homes without fixed landline or fixed broadband increasing.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Surely the “socially inclusive entry product” is BT Basic with broadband which costs, I think, £9.95 per month?

    • Avatar davidj

      Why would anyone pay £10 per month for BT basic with only 15GB allowance when they can get faster speeds and more data for less with a mobile contract?

  8. Avatar lance kelly

    noted your comments re b/band switching.strange that the dhss and other benefit providers are insisting that all claims are done on the internet obviously by the people can least afford any b/band nevermind superfast. my own council(wigan) appears to have no phone lines anymore, everything incl. rubbish removal must be organised online. as a 70 yr old this really is a pain in the a*** and also expensive as i only watch free tv via freeview and freesat so my broadband is just for official use only

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