Internet and mobiles 'essential'
1:52pm Tuesday 22nd July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
UK consumers now consider the internet and mobile phones to be essential services, a study has confirmed.
People said the ability to contact emergency services, keep in touch with family and friends, and access information, education and entertainment were among essential services.
Ofcom's research found 61% of consumers rated voice services - mobile or landline - as essential, 59% considered mobile voice or text services as essential, and 57% said they could not do without personal internet access.
It found age was a key factor in the services considered essential, with 61% of those aged 75 and over unable to do without a landline, compared with just 12% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
Accessing the internet via a smartphone was considered essential to 53% of 16 to 24-year-olds but to no one aged 75 and above.
Some 86% of those responsible for paying for essential communications services said they had never had difficulty meeting the cost.
The high take-up of essential communication services showed that, in most cases, cost was not a barrier to use, the regulator found.
Some 95% of households have at least one mobile phone, 84% have a landline and 82% an internet connection.
Some 7% of consumers said they would like to have broadband but cannot afford it.
Ofcom's consumer group director Claudio Pollack said: "While it's encouraging that the majority of people don't experience difficulties paying for their communications services, it's important that help is available for those who do.
"We're working to ensure that all consumers can benefit from the communications services which are most important for modern life."
Broadbandchoices.com telecoms spokesman Dominic Baliszewski said: "When fast, reliable broadband services can finally be delivered via mobile networks without a landline on a broad scale across the UK, we would expect the unpopular cost of landlines to be eliminated altogether.
"It is disappointing to see from Ofcom's report that there is still a lack of awareness of affordable deals amongst low income consumers. The cost of broadband, TV and phone has drastically reduced over the past five years, with some monthly deals costing less than a pint of beer.
"Anyone who hasn't switched in a while should be in a position to shave a good chunk off their monthly broadband spend."