Ofcom has announced that it’s going to review the market for standalone landline telephone services, as it’s concerned that some customers aren’t getting value for money.
Chances are you probably won’t be affected by Ofcom’s review, as many people now have a bundled telecoms package (landline, broadband and TV). But, you may very well know someone who is – particularly if they’re elderly or vulnerable.
Ofcom believes the increase in line rental charges for people who buy landline-only services disproportionately affects these groups, as they are more likely to take a landline without other services. It’s also more likely that they’ve never changed suppliers.
Data from the regulator shows that every major landline provider has put tariffs up significantly in the past few years, some as much as 41%. And that’s despite the fact that wholesale prices for providing the lines have fallen.
Ofcom has found that BT and Virgin Media charge the most for line rental, closely followed by Sky and TalkTalk.
While the regulator doesn’t have competition concerns about bundled telecoms packages, there is a real worry that there are a sizable number of consumers out there who aren’t getting a fair deal if they’re paying solely for a landline service.
In fact, it’s reported that around 2.7 million households only have a landline, with no access to other means of communications, such as broadband for email or a mobile phone. This was backed up by a convo we ran in the summer, when we asked if you think your landline is still a lifeline, considering the rise in mobile phone usage.
And for people like Alan, it definitely still is. He told us:
‘Those of us living in the countryside (less than four miles outside of a town) have to suffer the problems of totally rubbish broadband speeds and also virtually nil mobile phone (unless you want to hang out of the window waving your mobile around). So for millions of us the landline is invaluable and will be for a long time yet as the telecoms industry is only interested in urban areas.’
The regulator has started its investigation and opened a consultation, which will close at the end of February.
Which? welcomes this move from Ofcom, and will be looking to help it during its consultation in whatever way we can.
So, do you have a landline-only service, or do you know anyone who does? What do you think to landline-rental charges? What should Ofcom consider in its consultation?