Ofcom has published a report of the consumer experience that covers the areas it regulates, namely telecoms, the internet and digital broadcasting. The full report itself runs to a total of 161 pages, of which we will just mention a few points that are relevant to the broadband world.
A key area Ofcom made changes to was the introduction of General Condition 22 (GC22) earlier this year, which improved the support for migrations within the broadband market place. Unfortunately, while this has led to improvements and generally it is easier to change between some products, the more complex arrangements that the growing fully unbundled and shared unbundled markets create are still a work in progress. This latest Ofcom report shows that calls to the BT Wholesale tag line have been falling since April 2007.
The average monthly cost of broadband was £29.83 in 2002, lowering year on year until 2006 when it hit a price point of £14.73. Other telecoms elements like mobile packages and landline calls have also dropped, though land line rental has actually increased by 23p over the four years. The report also compares UK broadband pricing for a 2Mbps service with a 5GB allowance to French, German, Italian and US broadband services. There is little difference between the European countries, but the US is the most expensive in the comparison. As many of our readers will be aware, France and other countries probably have products that go a lot faster and are not much more in terms of cost, so if these were compared to the UK it would not fair so well. Choosing a basic 2Mbps 5GB service reflects more on what would be entry level and should in theory be widely available across the various countries.
The data on the awareness of broadband suppliers among the public is somewhat shocking, and suggests suppliers still have some way to go to increase awareness that there is a wide range of product options. 21% of people could only name one broadband provider, 20% two providers, 50% three or more and 8% couldn't name any. Interestingly in 2006 23% could not name any, so the amount of publicity, both good and bad does seem to be having an effect.
Those reading this news item will probably be aware of their internet connection speed, but there are 47% of adults in the Ofcom survey who were unaware of the connection speed when asked. With some further prompting, 73% were able to say whether their connection was faster or slower than 0.5Mbps, 27% did not know.
The report is a mine of useful information including the statistic that 49% of people trust personal sources for info on internet connection related matters, 24% use websites and 15% name the supplier as a source. This clearly shows we, as an independent advice site, have much work ahead of us.