Affordability of communications services

18 December 2020

Ensuring that people can access affordable communications services is a priority for Ofcom.

Many people’s finances have changed significantly this year, with some facing particular challenges. Since the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic began, Ofcom has collected new information on the affordability of communications services. This is in addition to our usual monitoring, and includes a monthly Covid-19 Affordability Tracker and information collected from communications providers on debt, disconnection and pricing.

In this report, we present our initial findings on the affordability of major communications providers. To reflect the importance of people being able to access the internet, we pay particular attention to the affordability of fixed broadband and mobile-internet services. Our analysis focuses on those people who are most likely to be financially vulnerable and are therefore more likely to face issues with the affordability of services.

Given the current challenging economic outlook, and in recognition of the uncertainty over how the economy may evolve over time, we will continue monitoring whether and how consumers’ experience of affordability changes. We will, for example, continue to carry out consumer research into 2021, which will allow us to track further changes in consumers’ ability to pay for their communications services. We also expect to undertake further monitoring of debt and disconnections trends and practices among providers.

Read our initial findings

Affordability of communications services: a summary of initial findings (PDF, 1.9 MB)

Fforddadwyedd gwasanaethau cyfathrebu: crynodeb o'r canfyddiadau cychwynnol (PDF, 717.5 KB)

Affordability of communications services: technical annex (PDF, 247.1 KB)

Download the data

Covid-19 Affordability Tracker data tables (XLSX, 2.4 MB)

Covid-19 Affordability Tracker codebook (XLSX, 32.0 KB)

Covid-19 Affordability Tracker respondent-level data (CSV, 12.8 MB)

Covid-19 Affordability Tracker respondent-level data (SAV, 2.2 MB)