an average 5% of the UK population live in homes that do not have
a fixed line phone. Oftel is interested in these homes in relation
to the Universal Service obligation to ensure that all
consumers have access to telecoms services that are essential
to social and economic inclusion, upon reasonable request, in
an appropriate fashion, and at an affordable price. The purpose
of this research is to assist in the provision of information
for Oftels review of Universal Service, a statement on which
will be published in late Spring 2000.
initially conducted for Oftel during September 1999 by Ipsos-RSL,
examined the demographic characteristics of these consumers who
do not have a fixed line phone at home. A summary of these results
can be found at http://www.oftel.gov.uk/cmu/research/unphoned.htm.
more recent study, conducted by Ipsos-RSL (GB), Ulster Marketing
Surveys (Northern Ireland) and BMRB International during March
2000, examined these consumers in more detail, focusing on their
circumstances and reasons for not having a fixed line phone. The
specific questions addressed include:
- Who are
- Why do
they not have a fixed line phone?
- What do
they use instead, why, and how satisfactory is this?
- Are they
aware of low usage schemes such as Light User Scheme, and In
- How helpful
do they consider these schemes to be?
- Would they
prefer to have a fixed line phone, and what would be needed
to get them onto the phone at home?
proportion of consumers in homes without a fixed line phone varies
by geographic region across the UK. This report examines the unphoned
population as a whole for Great Britain, with a separate appendix
(1) on Northern Ireland, where their incidence is slightly greater
at around 11%.
Research agency: Ipsos-RSL
Methodology: Face to face, in home, omnibus
Sample: 502 (unweighted), results are based on weighted data.
7% households had member(s) with disability that affects use of
the phone, about 14% sample, rural areas.
shorter questionnaire was conducted in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland survey
Research agency: Ulster Marketing Surveys
Methodology: Face to face, in home, omnibus
Timescales: February 20th to March 2nd 2000
face to face depth interviews were conducted across GB by BMRB
International, to supplement the quantitative findings, and to
provide a more detailed understanding of consumers reasons
and circumstances for not having a fixed phone. These interviews
were conducted during March 2000 amongst the following consumers:
- 4 using
- 4 in rural
/ remote areas
- 4 previously
had fixed line but now disconnected
- 4 not previously
had fixed line
- 4 with
results from these interviews have been incorporated in this report.
Summary Homes without a fixed line phone
The results indicate some clear patterns amongst consumers without
a fixed line phone at home, and are broadly consistent with Oftels
previous research in September 1999 and that of the Office of
National Statistics 1997/98 Family Expenditure Survey.
are the consumers with a fixed phone?
Overall, the majority of consumers living in homes without a fixed
line phone can be characterised by their low annual incomes, non-skilled
workers or not working, mostly living in rented accommodation,
predominantly council owned. However, about 1 in 10 are student
groups, and a similar proportion are higher income workers.
They tend on the whole to have less disposable income and are
therefore less likely to have other household items such as cars
and videos. They are however, as likely to have a mobile phone,
as those with fixed phones. Almost 3 in 5 of those without a fixed
phone claim to have a mobile.
do they not have a fixed line phone?
Preference for mobiles is the main reason for not having fixed
line phone, followed by cost issues. These were also the main
reasons for not getting a fixed phone in the near future. Cost
was particularly an issue for those with outstanding debts, both
to their previous telecoms supplier and more generally.
Just over 1 in 10 claim to make so few, if any calls, that they
have no need for a fixed line. Tenure was also a consideration
for those in temporary accommodation who felt that it was not
appropriate to install a fixed phone due to the transient nature
of their living arrangements. Moving house was the main reason
behind intentions to get a fixed line in the near future.
do they use instead?
Over half use mobiles (predominantly prepay packages) as their
main alternative, while the majority of the remainder use payphones.
Mobiles were preferred for their flexibility, and easier means
of controlling costs. Payphones were considered a good way of
controlling costs, but were less satisfactory in terms of their
availability, location, and accessibility. Consumers using payphones
were more likely to report feeling socially excluded and do not
make as many calls as they would like to.
The majority of consumers were satisfied with their alternative
method, particularly those using mobiles. Only a quarter would
prefer to use a fixed line to their current method, and whilst
part of this reasoning may be due to cost issues, there would
appear to be some consumers who genuinely have no need or desire
to use a fixed line phone. Only about half of consumers say they
intend to get a fixed phone in the future.
are the telcos doing to help?
Those consumers who previously had a fixed phone said they received
little assistance from their telco in paying their bill, controlling
their costs, and remaining on the phone. Awareness of low usage
schemes such as Light User Scheme and In Contact/Plus was at best
1 in 5. Consumers on the whole, did not consider these schemes
to be very helpful in assisting them get a fixed line phone. When
asked what the telcos would need to do 1 in 5 claimed that they
were happy as they were and nothing would get them onto the phone
at home, whilst the remainder focused on cheaper charges.
In summary, the population without a fixed line phone can be broadly
grouped as follows:
are predominantly consumers who use mobiles as their main alternative
to a fixed line (5/6 in 10). They tend to be younger (up to 34),
in the slightly higher social grades, and more likely to be working.
They prefer to use mobiles rather than fixed phones because of
the flexibility they offer. Cost is less of an issue, and they
spend about £20 per month on their mobile bill. They dont
tend to feel disadvantaged as their mobile enables them to keep
in touch at all times. They are most likely to be completely satisfied
with their current telecoms arrangements and they are less likely
to want a fixed line in the future.
are predominantly consumers who use payphones as their main alternative
to a fixed line (about 2 in 10). They tend to be more middle aged,
of E social grade, not working, and living in smaller households.
They are more likely to have outstanding debts, both to their
previous telecoms suppliers, and elsewhere. They do not make as
many calls as they would like to and tend to feel more vulnerable
and socially disadvantaged, finding it more difficult to keep
in touch with this method. Cost is the main issue, they spend
on average less than £12 per month on calls. Whilst they would
prefer a fixed line phone, their current financial situation is
a barrier to achieving this, certainly in the short term.
dont needs (at least 1 in 10)
are predominantly older consumers (55+), slightly higher social
grades and larger annual incomes. Their reason for not having
a fixed phone is that they rarely (if ever) make calls, and as
a result they dont tend to use any alternative method either.
Cost is not really the issue, and they are less likely to have
any outstanding debts, or experience problems paying their households
bills. They are less likely to see themselves getting a fixed
phone in the future - they dont think they have any need
for it and many of the people they would want to call are not
on the phone either. Those who do make the very occasional call
are more likely to use their friends, family, or neighbours
Who are the consumers without a fixed line phone?
by low annual incomes/state pensions, not working, living in
predominantly council rented accommodation
- 3 in
5 own a mobile instead (similar level to those with a fixed
2.1 The demographic
profiles of consumers with and without a fixed line phone are
shown charts 1a to 1h.
Consumers without a fixed line phone at home tend to be younger
than average, over half are under the age of 34. Although
lower than their average proportion in the population - about
1 in 5 of the unphoned are over the age of 55 and
likely to be retired.
They are more likely to be not working, either
unemployed, students or retired. Almost 2 in 5 were working either
full or part time however, but tended to be on very low incomes,
considerably lower than average. 3 in 4 were on annual incomes
of less than £12,000.
They are considerably more likely than those with a fixed line
phone, to be in the lower social grades, D and E. (This
includes retired people on state rather than private pensions,
non-skilled workers and the unemployed).
As a result, they have little disposable income and are considerably
less likely than those with a phone to own many durables, such
as videos, satellite or cable TV taken for granted in many UK
households. Only 3 in 10 owned a car, compared with 7 in 10 of
those with a phone. They were however as likely to own a mobile
phone, as those with a fixed line phone. Over half of both
groups claimed to own a mobile.
There are some geographic differences and there was a lower than
average incidence of the population in homes without a fixed line
phone in London and the south. Northern Ireland was highest with
an estimated 11% population in homes without a fixed line phone.
Other distinguishing features of consumers without a fixed line
phone include their terminal education age* they were slightly
more likely to have left education at a younger age than those
with a fixed line phone. They are considerably more likely to
live in rented accommodation, predominantly council owned.
Fewer than 1 in 5 own their property. They tend to generally live
in the lower Acorn* housing classification areas, predominantly
D, E and F, which include the more downmarket and less wealthy
areas of housing.
Consumers without a fixed line phone tend to be slightly heavier
TV viewers* than those with. And they are slightly less likely
to read a daily paper, and those who do tend to read the tabloid
results taken from September 1999 survey
Both projects (September 1999, and March 2000) found that the
main groups of consumers without a fixed line phone are:
unemployed, low income council residents, some possibly single
- about 1
in 10 are students
unemployed/low income or retired consumers on state rather than
private pensions, again primarily living in rented accommodation
- about 1
in 10 have fairly high income of more than £17,500
The majority are characterised by very low annual incomes,
and are predominantly unemployed or non-skilled workers, living
in small households of 1 or 2 people, in council or other rented
The research on the whole supports the results of the 1997/98
Family Expenditure Survey carried out the Office of National Statistics.
The only difference was mobile phone ownership, which the FES
reported as being considerably below average amongst households
without a fixed phone. This inconsistency is most likely a result
of the different time periods in which the two surveys were conducted.
The recent growth in the mobile market, particularly in pre-pay
phones, may account for these differences.
Why do some consumers not have a fixed line phone
using mobiles instead more flexible and convenient to
obtain and use, easier to control spend
issues couldnt afford bills and/or disconnected.
of usage dont make sufficient calls to need a fixed
The single greatest reason for not having a fixed line phone,
was got a mobile instead (38%). The main reasons
for this are detailed in section 4.
contactable whenever I want to be contactable"
The second most mentioned reason for not having a fixed line phone
related to cost, and the inability to afford the bills
(24%). This was slightly higher amongst consumers who previously
had a fixed line phone, and therefore have previous experience
in the paying these bills. Other specific cost related reasons
for not having a fixed line phone included:
for non-payment (6%)
costs including calls and rental (6%)
and installation costs (5%)
had [the phone] disconnected because with the boys getting older
theyre on the phone to their friends all the time"
think they wanted quite an amount to put a phone on
initial cost was expensive and I thought no, Im not, I just
felt that it was over the top"
mobile user living in a rural area, explained that he saw no value
in paying £100 to be connected to fixed phone when he could subscribe
to a mobile phone for a lower initial outlay.
Just over 1 in 10 consumers (13%) said they did not make sufficient
calls (if any) to need a fixed line phone at home.
These were predominantly elderly consumers, widowed/divorced,
and living in small households (either alone or with one other
person). They tended to be higher social grades, some of whom
were working part-time, and living more-so in London than elsewhere.
Other consumers had become used to living without a fixed line
phone, and had not bothered to install a line, even though they
could now afford one.
small areas like this, you can more or less keep in touch with
folks without the phone"
didnt use the phone, I mean I was abroad most of the time,
not here hardly ever"
was also a consideration for some consumers, who felt that due
to the transient nature of their living arrangements, it was not
appropriate to install a fixed line phone.
had the mobile after I moved from my house, and then I was
staying with friends and then I went abroad and travelled
for a while"
.5 The main
reason given by elderly consumers (65+) for not having a fixed
line phone was lack of use they said they didnt make
sufficient, if any calls. They were twice as likely than average
to give this reason. Cost was also a consideration, both initial
installation/connection costs and ongoing call charges. Younger
consumers (15-34) were more likely than average to quote mobile
usage as their main reason for not having a fixed phone.
3.6 The very
low income groups (less than £6,500), and the E social grades,
were most likely to cite cost reasons as their main reasons for
not having a fixed phone.
history of consumers without a fixed line phone
time without a fixed phone is about 12 months
than half previously had fixed phone at current address. Of
those who did:
assistance from telcos to remain on phone
- 1 in
3 have outstanding debts to telco
long have these consumers been without a fixed line phone?
3.7 Less than
half (42%) of consumers without a fixed line phone previously
had a fixed line at their current address. This was slightly higher
amongst the middle age groups (25-54) and amongst larger households
of more than 5.
The majority of previously fixed line customers had been with
BT (84%). This was higher amongst older consumers, and the larger
income groups. The remainder were with one of the cable operators.
Customers had been with their chosen company for 18 months on
average, although this was slightly shorter for those with cable
suppliers. On average these consumers have been without a fixed
line service for almost a year, however 2 in 5 have been disconnected
within the last 6 months.
Elderly consumers, particularly those over the age of 65, tend
to have been without a fixed line phone for a considerably longer
period, but had been with their previous supplier for a longer
period of time. Younger consumers, and the DE low income groups
tended to have been with their previous supplier for the shortest
period, and the younger groups were more likely to have been disconnected
on relatively small sample sizes
Only 1 in 3 customers claimed to owe outstanding payments for
their previous fixed line service, although the actual instance
of this might be higher as some respondents might be reluctant
to admit their debts. Just over 1 in 10 (13%) said that they were
unlikely to be able to clear these outstanding payments in the
short term. Consumers with mobile phones were more likely to be
in this latter position.
are some consumers no longer able to afford a fixed line phone?
Some consumers had requested disconnection following a succession
of bills that they were finding increasingly difficult to pay
and control, while others had been disconnected, not necessarily
through choice, for non-payment. The inability to control and
pay bills, following years of previously having a fixed line,
was usually due to a change in financial circumstances resulting
from life changes such as divorce/separation, retirement or unemployment.
Few consumers, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their
disconnection, said they had received any assistance from their
telco to assist them control their spend, meet payments and generally
keep their fixed line phone. Awareness and uptake of low usage
schemes that might be appropriate for these consumers, is examined
in a subsequent section.
asked if them if we could have incoming calls only and they said
You are going to still have to pay it off, otherwise youll
be disconnected. So we just said Right, fine, disconnect
us then, and we got annoyed and we just unplugged the phone
anyway. So we didnt have either coming in or out"
is the impact of not having a fixed line phone?
- 2 in
5 dont make as many calls as would like to
users had some difficulties keeping in touch, and felt less
were some clear disadvantages to not having a fixed line phone
for some consumers, primarily those not using mobiles.
Isolation in times of emergency, and feelings of insecurity and
vulnerability were mentioned particularly by females, disabled
consumers, and those living alone.
our neighbour got arrested
and we werent allowed
to leave our flat, we were told to stay in
we should have
had a phone, so if anything like happens you know"
Some consumers said it affected both their social life and contact
with friends and family, and their general everyday arrangements
such as contacting schools, banks, utilities etc. They felt that
all of these contacts were more difficult than if they had access
to a fixed line phone at home.
have been a few things where someone has phone me up next morning
at work and said oh I wish I had been able to contact you
2 in 5 consumers said they dont make as many calls as they
would like to, particularly those using payphones, and the lowest
income groups. Cost of calls from payphones and some mobiles were
considered high in comparison to calls from fixed lines, however,
this was overshadowed by the ability to monitor and control costs.
customers were considerably more satisfied with this method of
calling, and felt that the only disadvantages to having a mobile
rather than fixed line were coverage issues in certain areas,
and the cost of some calls such as international.
alternative methods do consumers use for making calls?
3 in 5 use mobiles, predominantly prepay packages, average spend
£19 per month
1 in 3 use payphones, average spend less than £12 per month
Over 1 in 10 consumers (13%) claimed they do not use any alternative
method for making calls as they do not make any calls.
and payphones were the primary alternatives used. Fewer than 1
in 20 consumers used any other method as their main means
for making and receiving calls. These included phone at friends/family/neighbours
home (3%); phone at work (1%); and pagers/email/calling shops
(less than 1% in total).
consumers (65+) were most likely to say they did not use any alternative,
because they didnt make any calls (45% vs 13% average).
Of those who did use an alternative, friends and family
members phones were considerably more popular than average
(11% vs 3% average). Younger consumers (15-34) were considerably
more likely to use mobiles (68% vs 55% average).
4.3 The E
social grades and lowest income group were more likely than average
to use payphones and less likely to use mobiles.
Chart 4b provides a summary profile of consumers using mobile
as their main alternative, compared to those using other alternatives
(predominantly payphones), and those who do not use any alternative.
is using mobiles, and why?
Mobile was the primary alternative means of making and receiving
calls, used by 3 in 5 consumers without a fixed line phone, and
by 55% as the method they used most often. Over 4 in 5 mobile
users said that they like to be in touch at all times.
4.6 The main
reason for mobile usage (mentioned by 50% of users) was the
convenience and flexibility they offer, allowing consumers
to make and receive calls from a range of locations as the situation
required, rather than being tied to one location.
I dont have to worry about the children when theyre
at school, because Ill get a phone call wherever I am"
reasons for using a mobile rather than a fixed line included:
- the ability
to monitor and control spend using prepaid vouchers
- the convenience
of obtaining and using a mobile, particularly the prepay variety,
where no contract or pre-qualification is required, and there
was no bill to remember to pay.
- the pricing
structure, in particular the low, or nill, rental charge on
some packages; the free minutes per month; and the
low charges for text messaging. Almost 1 in 5 said it was cheaper
for them than a fixed line phone.
Mobile usage was highest amongst younger consumers (15-34),
and those in large households of more than five. Mobile
usage was considerably lower than average amongst consumers
who were not working. This includes the elderly, particularly
those over the age of 65 (10%). There was little difference in
usage by annual income or social grade, apart from the E grades
and those under £6,500 (who are generally one in the same, and
are again less likely to be working) who were less likely to use
a mobile, and preferred payphones. Mobile usage was lowest in
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
type of mobiles are these consumers using?
The overwhelming preference was for prepay packages, used
by 77% of consumers who used a mobile as their primary means of
making calls. Monthly subscription packages and all-in-one packages
were used by 15% (primarily those on higher incomes) and 4% respectively.
About half of mobile users have started using their mobile within
the last year. Consumers who have never had a fixed line phone
were only slightly more likely to have had their mobiles for longer
than those who previously had a fixed line.
4.11 The majority
of mobile users (77%) claimed to make/receive a roughly equal
number of incoming and outgoing calls. Fewer than 1 in 5 consumers
said they only really used their mobile for receiving calls, although
this was slightly higher amongst the very elderly.
much are mobile users spending?
The average monthly spend on mobile usage was about £19,
which is largely consistent with the average monthly fixed line
bill. This could imply one of two things either that cost
is not really an issue for these consumers and they actually prefer
the flexibility of mobiles, or, that they perceive the monthly
cost of a fixed line to be higher than it actually is, and do
not realise that for a similar amount they could be using a fixed
line. Only 1 in 20 mobile users did not know how much they spent
Average spend increased in line with annual income, ranging from
a monthly average of £17 amongst the lowest income groups, to
£35 amongst those with incomes of more than £25,000.
Monthly spends tended to be higher than £20 amongst those on monthly
subscription and all in one packages, and slightly lower amongst
the prepay package users at £17.
is using payphones, and why?
Payphones were the second most popular method, used by 38% of
consumers overall, and by 19% as their main method for
making calls. Payment by cash was considerably more popular
than buying phonecards. Payphone usage was most popular amongst
those least likely to use mobiles the low income,
E grade consumers who were not working. It is worth noting
that it was primarily the younger members of these groups who
used payphones, rather than the elderly, who were less likely
to make any calls, and when they did, preferred to use fixed line
phones at the homes of friends, family or neighbours.
Cost was the main reason for using a payphone, both inability
to afford a fixed line phone, and the ability to monitor and limit
spend using a payphone. The average weekly spend less than
£3, with fewer than 1 in 20 payphone users spending any more
than this. 1 in 6 of those using payphones said they chose to
do so because it was convenient for them and was located
very near to their home.
for not using payphones
The main reasons for not using payphones, included:
for mobiles (49%)
- cost of
of needing change/cards (14%).
In addition to these, there was some concern and problems with
using payphones, both amongst those who chose to use them and
those who did not. These included:
to the nearest payphone (11%)
facilities themselves unpleasant/cold (6%),
lack of privacy (5%), payphone not working
safety issues related to the location of the payphone (5%),
particularly in areas known for crime or drug use.
only inconvenience is youve got hardened drug dealers round
Additionally, disabled consumers, and those with small children
reported difficulties in using payphones, and their unsuitability
for accommodating wheelchairs and pushchairs.
satisfactory are the alternatives to a fixed line phone?
completely satisfied with alternative method mobiles
more than payphones
2 in 3 say they dont need a fixed line phone
a quarter would prefer to use a fixed line phone rather than
their current method
7 in 10 of those without a fixed line phone claimed to
be completely satisfied with their alternative method for
making and receiving calls. Satisfaction levels were highest amongst
those using mobiles, and slightly lower than average amongst payphone
users. Some of the reasons for this have already been reflected
in the previous section, which discussed the disadvantages and
advantages of these methods.
Almost 2 in 3 (63%) said they dont need a fixed line phone.
Only a quarter (27%) said they would prefer to use a fixed line
rather than their current method. These were mainly payphone users,
as those using mobiles were considerably more satisfied (80%)
and were less likely to prefer a fixed line (19%). Reasons for
preferring a fixed phone included more convenient/always available,
and more comfortable/safer calling from home amongst those currently
using payphones, while mobile users were more likely to cite cheaper
theyre not working, I get very impatient with public call
boxes and theyre very dirty sometimes, people do all manner
of things in them so I would much rather have my phone"
There was no difference in satisfaction between those who previously
had a fixed line phone and those who did not. This is perhaps
surprising - if fixed line phones are the preferred method for
calling it might be expected that that those who previously used
this method, might be less satisfied with their current alternative,
than those who have made less use of fixed lines.
Appendix 2 shows the regional variations in phone usage and satisfaction
with fixed line alternatives. Overall, it would appear that about
1% of consumers are dissatisfied with having to use an alternative
to a fixed line phone. This is higher in Scotland and Wales however,
at about 3%, and to a lesser extent East Anglia at just over 2%.
One likely explanation could be the relative rurality of these
areas, where payphones might be more dispersed, and mobile coverage
may be more erratic in parts.
How likely are these consumers to get a fixed
line phone in the future?
Almost half say theyre never likely to get fixed line
- no need/using
Of those planning to get a fixed line, the average estimate is
about six months
Almost half (45%) of consumers currently without a fixed line
phone said theyre never likely to get one. This was highest
amongst the elderly and consumers who did not previously have
a fixed line at their current address. Of the remainder, the average
estimated time before getting a fixed phone was about 6 months,
although this was slightly longer for those with very low income
(less than £6,500) and not working.
are the reasons for not getting a fixed line phone?
The main reason for not getting a fixed line in the near future
is use of mobile instead (34%). Other reasons include no need
(32%) which may also include use of mobiles; and cost related
issues, such as cost of connection/installation (26%) and inability
to control ongoing costs (20%). Only 1 in 20 mentioned debts,
both to their previous telco and more generally, as the reason
for not getting a fixed line in the near future.
consumers were most likely to claim they had no need of a fixed
- Young consumers
and large households were more likely to cite mobile usage
- Those on
low incomes and the E social grades were more concerned about
are the reasons enabling some to get a fixed line phone in the
Moving home was the main reason for ability to get a fixed line
phone in the near future (25%). [NB The numbers in each demographic
group are too small to provide useful information on this question,
however, this is likely to be people in temporary accommodation,
probably rented from the council].
reasons included will have paid off previous telco debts
(22%), or will be getting a larger income (11%).
attitudes to phone ownership
Half of consumers thought that a telephone at home was a luxury,
while 2 in 5 said they thought it important, but couldnt
afford it at the moment. About 2 in 3 said that the upfront and
ongoing costs were too much. Difficulty paying household bills
and general debts were also contributing to some consumers
decisions to not have a fixed line phone.
consumers aware of the low usage schemes available for fixed line
of schemes is low - at best, 1 in 5
- It would
appear that consumers are not being offered low usage schemes
to assist them in keeping a fixed line phone
did not consider schemes particularly helpful in getting them
onto the phone
- 1 in
5 said the telcos could do nothing to get them onto a fixed
line phone, the remaining 4 in 5 all focused on cheaper costs
of all aspects of service.
Awareness of telecoms service options, including low usage schemes,
and different payment options was low, and at best, had
been heard of by 1 in 5 consumers. Awareness was slightly
higher amongst those who had previously had a fixed line phone
although not significantly, suggesting they were not made aware
of these options when the previously had a fixed service, or have
since forgotten. The very low income groups were slightly more
likely to have heard of In contact and In contact plus.
There were few regional differences in awareness levels, which
may be partly due to the relatively small sample sizes in each
of the 12 geographic areas. If anything, awareness was highest
in London and the south.
customers being offered these schemes?
At best 1 in 10 consumers who previously had a fixed phone at
home, said they had been offered any of the low usage schemes
LUS, In contact, In contact plus. This confirms the previous
point that few claimed to have received any assistance from their
telco to assist them control their spend, meet payments and generally
keep their fixed line phone.
Of those offered LUS or In contact, 3 in 4 took up these schemes.
Those who refused LUS did so because they felt it was too expensive
or too complicated. Those who refused In contact said it did not
meet their needs.
useful do consumers think these schemes are?
All consumers without a fixed line phone were asked how helpful
they felt these schemes would be in assisting them to get a fixed
line phone. At best, 1 in 3 considered these schemes helpful in
assisting them get a fixed line phone. A further 1 in 4 said they
werent sure how useful these would be, and would require
additional information in order to decide.
The proportion of not helpful was highest amongst
those using mobile phones, who appear to be less interested in
moving to a fixed phone as they are more satisfied with their
method than those using other alternatives. The elderly, low income/not
working, and large households were most likely to think LUS and
In contact/plus would be helpful to them.
could telcos do to assist these consumers get a fixed line phone?
Since these schemes are obviously not helpful to all consumers,
they were asked what a telephone company would need to offer in
order for them to have a fixed line phone installed/reinstalled.
The top answer, from just over 1 in 5 customers (22%) was nothing
Im happy as I am. These were primarily the
The more positive reasons from the remainder of customers focused
on cost issues, and included:
line rental (21%)
cheaper charges (9%)
- Free local/weekend
- Free calls
payment terms eg pay as you go (7%)
offering free line rental. So when you sign up you get a couple
of months free line rental. Also I like the idea of getting free
minutes on the mobiles, thats a good idea"
1 Homes without a fixed line phone in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland results have been summarised as an appendix to
the main report because a shorter version of the questionnaire
was conducted via a different omnibus survey.
In summary, the results are broadly similar to the rest of the
UK, in terms of reasons for not having a fixed line phone, and
alternatives used. The proportions differ however, indicating
both economic differences amongst consumers, and differences in
both the availability and use of alternatives in Northern Ireland.
of homes without a fixed line phone in Northern Ireland
more of an issue than the rest of the UK as a whole - Inability
to afford bills main reason for no fixed line
are the main alternative rather than mobiles. Mobiles used by
just over 1 in 4
packages, and average payphone and mobile spends are similar
from LUS, similar awareness of low usage schemes, at best 1
in 5 aware.
1 in 3 would prefer to use a fixed line only slightly
higher than GB.
are the unphoned?
11% of homes in Northern Ireland claimed to be without a fixed
line phone, double the UK 5% average. 7% claim to have no phone
at all. Younger consumers (up to 34), not working, DE social grades,
and of single marital status were most likely to be living in
homes without a fixed phone. They were predominantly living outside
of the greater Belfast area, in small households of 1 or 2 people.
do these consumers not have a fixed line phone?
the rest of the UK where preference for mobiles was the main reason
giving for not having fixed line, cost was the main barrier in
method are these consumers using instead?
Payphones were the most popular alternative in Northern Ireland,
used by 43% of consumers (particularly DE and not working), which
was higher than elsewhere in the UK, although average spend was
similar at up to £3 per week. Again, the main reasons for not
using payphones included preference for mobiles (46%), too far
away (10%), and inconvenience (9%).
Only just over a quarter (28%), were using a mobile as their main
alternative, which was significantly lower than GB 55%. The predominance
of prepay packages (85%) was similar however and again it was
predominantly younger and ABC1s using monthly subscription mobile
Monthly mobile spend was broadly in line with the rest of the
UK, and again the younger consumers, and those working tended
to spend more than other groups:
- Up to £10
- £41+ -
Also similar, was the proportion of consumers who said they would
prefer to use a fixed line phone rather than their current alternative
(32% in NI, 27% in GB). This was highest amongst the middle age
groups (35-49) and larger households with children.
consumers aware of the low usage schemes for fixed line services?
Awareness of low usage schemes was also broadly in line with elsewhere,
apart from LUS which only 10% claimed to have heard of, compared
with double this proportion in GB.
- In contact
- In contact
tariffs for textphone users 3%
2 Regional variations in phone usage and satisfaction