Most US homes have mobiles but no landline

Less than half of US households now have a landline, according to a study from the US government.
  
Less than half of US households now have a landline, according to a study from the US government.
 
Of the households surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50.8% of homes had at least one mobile phone but no landline. A further 3.3% of homes surveyed had neither a mobile phone nor a landline. The CDC found that mobile-only households had become the majority during its twice-yearly survey into the health and habits of Americans. 
 
Participants in the National Health Interview Survey are asked to provide a residential phone number in case the CDC needs to contact them again.
 
In 2003, it started to ask participating households whether they had “at least one phone inside [the] home that is currently working and is not a cell phone”. Its preliminary data for the second half of 2016 suggests that only 45.9% of households had a landline. The CDC does not explore the reasons why participants do not have a fixed phone line, if that is the case. Instead, it uses the data to help ensure it is interviewing a representative sample of the US population.
 
The CDC says that the number of households without a landline has risen by 2.5% since the same period in 2015. It suggests that more than 123 million adults (50.5%) and more than 44 million children (60.7%) live in households with at least one mobile phone but no landline.
 
More than 70% of adults aged 25-34 were found to live in mobile-only homes, while almost 84% of households made up of unrelated adults had no fixed phone line. Renters, adults deemed to be living in poverty or near-poverty, and Hispanic adults were also found to be more likely to live in mobile-only households.
 
In the UK, the proportion of mobile-only households is much lower. Figures from the telecoms and communications watchdog, Ofcom, show that at the start of 2017, just 18% of UK households were mobile-only.
 
The reason, it says, is that despite a steady decline in the quantity of calls made and received via a landline, most homes still need one in order to get fixed line broadband. Many in the US can get their broadband and TV via a cable provider instead, which removes the need for a traditional phone line.
 
 

TalkTalk and BT rated worst for broadband

TalkTalk and BT have received the worst customer satisfaction scores in a survey of 12 broadband providers.
  
TalkTalk and BT have received the worst customer satisfaction scores in a survey of 12 broadband providers.
 
They scored 38% and 45% respectively with their customers, while Sky (48%) and EE (49%) came close behind them in the Which? survey of 1,800 people. Frequent price rises, connections that drop, unreliable speeds and “woeful” customer service all contributed to the scores, the consumer group said. The four account for almost three-quarters of the UK broadband market. BT alone accounts for almost a third of the country’s broadband connections.
Five stars?
Zen Internet had the highest customer rating at 86% in the survey, followed by Utility Warehouse (81%), John Lewis Broadband (68%), SSE (66%) and Plusnet (65%) Virgin Media (52%), Vodafone (50%) and the Post Office (48%) were also included.
 
Which? surveyed people about their broadband in November and December. The customer score is based on satisfaction levels with their provider and whether they would recommend it to others. Those surveyed were also asked to evaluate aspects of the service, with five stars being the highest rating in seven categories, including speed, reliability and customer service.
 
BT scored just two stars in all seven categories, while TalkTalk also scored two stars in each except value for money, for which it got three stars. Just four of the 12 providers scored more than three stars for speed: Zen Internet, Utility Warehouse, Virgin Media and Vodafone.
 
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: “The big players still have a long way to go to satisfy their customers, so if you’re unhappy with your broadband, complain and look to switch if your service doesn’t improve.”
 
A BT spokesperson said it was disappointed with the survey result and apologised to any customers who had been let down. “Generally, our broadband performs extremely well for customers and offers very reliable speeds at peak times, according to the latest Ofcom broadband speeds report.”
 
A TalkTalk spokesperson said: “Our extensive improvement programme has already led to fewer faults, faster average speeds, shorter times to resolve issues and customers reporting higher satisfaction levels.”
 
Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, said last month that broadband customers who suffered poor service may get automatic refunds under new plans. Its own survey suggested that 51% of broadband customers were “very satisfied” with their provider, with 36% fairly satisfied. That meant a “significant” minority – 13% – experienced poor service, mostly due to slow speeds or loss of service, it said.
 
BT had the lowest score for “very satisfied” of the four providers in the Ofcom survey at 45%, followed by TalkTalk on 49%, Sky on 52% and Virgin Media on 55%.
 
Last month BT agreed to Ofcom demands to legally separate Openreach, which runs the UK’s broadband network, in a bid to give better service to both consumers and broadband providers.
 
Digital minister Matt Hancock said: “Too many people are suffering from poor customer service when things go wrong with their broadband. Getting a better deal for consumers is at the heart of our Digital Economy Bill, which strengthens Ofcom’s power to make sure providers pay automatic compensation when service falls short.”
 
 
 
 

Virgin Media flaw caused Facebook glitch

Virgin Media has admitted it was responsible for a fault that that prevented some of its broadband customers from being able to access Facebook.

The unusual glitch had also prevented use of Messenger and Instagram. The telecoms firm had earlier pointed the blame at Facebook itself. The issue started on Tuesday evening and Virgin had initially indicated it would take it longer to resolve than was ultimately the case.
“We have now investigated an issue which meant some Virgin Media customers were intermittently not able to access Facebook and Instagram,” a spokesman said. “This was due to an interconnect router going down on Virgin Media’s network meaning that some of our DNS [domain name system] requests were not able to contact Facebook servers. Our fault has now been fixed and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
DNS refers to the internet’s address system, which converts www.facebook.com and other addresses into strings of numbers that allow users’ computers to connect to the servers behind specific sites and apps. The fault had only affected some of Virgin Media’s broadband users and not those trying to connect via its mobile network, which relies on EE.
Virgin Media has 5.2 million customers in the UK, according to its owner Liberty Global. The problem coincides with a report from the telecoms regulator Ofcom that said Virgin Media tied with TalkTalk as the broadband providers with the highest proportion of customers who had a reason to complain about their services in 2016.
However, the same study indicated that Virgin customers also enjoyed the highest level of overall satisfaction of the major providers.

Broadband prices penalise loyal customers

The cheapest broadband prices shoot up by an average of 43% or £113 a year, after introductory deals end, Citizens Advice has said.
  
The cheapest broadband prices shoot up by an average of 43% or £113 a year, after introductory deals end, Citizens Advice has said.
 
The charity said more than a third of customers were unaware of the price increases. The rises amount to a “loyalty penalty” for customers who stay with the same provider, Citizens Advice said. It has urged broadband providers to be more transparent about prices and said government should scrutinise the firms.
 
The £113 figure represents a five-fold rise on what customers were paying on average in 2011 to stay on the same broadband deal.
 
Four of the five biggest internet service providers had “loyalty penalties” as follows, according to Citizens Advice: BT 12 month contract: £198 (67% increase), Sky 12 months: £120 (53% increase), EE 18 months: £90 (36% increase), TalkTalk 24 months: £66 (28% increase)
 
Virgin Media’s 12 month plan was the only one that didn’t impose a loyalty penalty when the initial term of the contract ended.
 
“Loyal broadband customers are being stung by big price rises once their fixed deal ends,” Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said. “The government has rightly put energy firms on warning for how they treat loyal customers – the actions of broadband firms warrant similar scrutiny.”
 
The Citizens Advice research also found that older people and poorer customers were more likely to be hit by such charges as they generally stayed with the same supplier for longer than other customers.
 
In the survey of 3,000 consumers, broadband users aged 65 and over were more than twice as likely as younger users to have been on the same contract for more than 10 years.
 
In March, an Ofcom report revealed that elderly people with a landline and no broadband at home had been hit the hardest by rising line rental charges. BT announced price rises in January for many of its services, including regular and super-fast broadband. Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk had also all put up their prices in the past 12 months.
 
To see which of the 25,000+ broadband deals currently available is best for you check our comparison information at: peoplesphone.co.uk/digital-compare.
 
 
 
 

Call blocking will be given to most vulnerable people

Elderly and vulnerable people plagued by nuisance phone calls will be given call blocking devices, the prime minister has announced.
  
Elderly and vulnerable people plagued by nuisance phone calls will be given call blocking devices, the prime minister has announced.
 
The government will spend £500,000 on around 1,500 devices for the most vulnerable, including dementia sufferers. Doctors, trading standards officials and local councils will identify those most at risk. Theresa May said she is “determined to clamp down” on fraudsters.
 
The trueCall devices can block all calls from numbers not on a pre-set list chosen by the home owner. The technology can also provide an option where callers can enter a PIN code to get through to the person or be directed to a friend or relative.
 
Mrs May said: “We want to create a fairer society by cracking down on unscrupulous practices which target the most vulnerable. This new, targeted scheme is the latest step in the government’s fight against nuisance calls, protecting those who are most at risk, including those with dementia.”
 
The move follows a similar trial scheme run by the National Trading Standards scams team last year. It said that 93% of participants felt safer in their homes, including one person who had previously paid £150,000 to a scam caller.
‘Greater sense of security’
 
Lord Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: “The impact of nuisance calls – both emotional and financial – cannot be under-estimated. We know that these call-blockers can make a real difference to people’s lives and give those in vulnerable situations, such as those with dementia and their families, a greater sense of protection and security.”
 
The move also has the backing of charities, including Dementia UK. Its chief executive, Hilda Hayo, said: “We welcome this project as some people living with dementia are vulnerable to nuisance callers who offer bogus services and financial schemes. These calls can not only have a negative financial impact but can also lead to psychological affects such as anxiety, depression and a loss of self-esteem.”
 
 

ASA to review advertising of ‘fibre’ broadband services

The UK’s advertising watchdog is looking into the way so-called “fibre broadband” services are marketed.
  
The UK’s advertising watchdog is looking into the way so-called “fibre broadband” services are marketed.
 
Over the last year, the ASA have announced major changes to the way broadband pricing should be advertised and published independent research into consumers’ understanding of broadband speed claims in ads.
 
The ASA are pleased that broadband providers have been sticking to our new standards on pricing, which states that the cost of line rental and broadband should be combined so consumers are not misled by the total monthly cost of their packages. We believe it is now much easier for people to see how much they will pay, when shopping around for a new broadband package.
 
Following their research on broadband speed, the sister body CAP is currently considering how best to tighten standards on speed claims in ads with an announcement expected in the next few weeks. They are also aware of evolving concerns about the advertising of ‘fibre’ broadband services. 
 
The term ‘fibre’ is currently used in advertising to describe both part-fibre and full-fibre broadband services.
 
The UK Government’s recently published Digital Strategy made clear its commitment to invest in full-fibre broadband infrastructure, which is likely to make those services available to significantly more people, and also made clear its view that the term ‘fibre’ should only be used to describe full-fibre broadband services.  A recent debate in Parliament saw those MPs who participated also expressing their concerns about the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe part-fibre broadband services.
 
In response to that context and those concerns, the ASA are now scoping a review of how we interpret the Advertising Codes when judging the use of the term ‘fibre’ to describe broadband services. In particular, they will be considering whether the use of that term is likely to cause people to be materially misled. their work has already begun and they will provide an update with more information by the summer. 
 
In some cases, ISPs are advertising services as fibre that rely on slower copper wires for the final link to a customer’s home. The probe has been prompted by consumer complaints and calls from MP Matt Warman to investigate. Mr Warman said ISPs were misleading customers by giving them copper when they expected fibre.
 
In a statement, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was acting because of “evolving concerns” about the way fibre broadband services were advertised, and recent changes to government policy, which meant far more people would potentially have access to such services.
 
If you are unsure that you get theadvertised sppeds or anywhere close then use our Network Speed Checker and if your not then consider switching. We provide a Digital Comparison Service listing all the current best deals.
 
 
 

Ofcom moves to cut superfast broadband prices

Ofcom has today announced measures designed to promote investment in new fibre networks and ensure that customers are protected from higher prices.
  
Ofcom has today announced measures designed to promote investment in new fibre networks and ensure that customers are protected from higher prices.
 
They are proposing to maintain their policy of pricing flexibility for Openreach’s fastest broadband products, including those based on BT’s own network investments in full-fibre and its new G.Fast technology.
 
Ofcom plan to protect broadband customers and promote competition, by cutting the wholesale price that Openreach – the part of BT responsible for its network – can charge telecoms companies for its popular superfast broadband service, which has a download speed of up to 40 Mbit/s. They would expect these savings to be passed on to residential customers through cheaper prices. This promotes competition in the superfast broadband service most used today by consumers, while companies construct their own full-fibre ultrafast networks to compete with Openreach.
 
The new rules would also include stricter requirements on Openreach to repair faults and install new broadband lines more quickly. These will set higher binding quality standards on the company’s performance. Should Openreach fail to meet the new targets, Ofcom has the power to impose fines.
 
Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s Competition Group Director, said: “Our plans are designed to encourage long-term investment in future ultrafast, full-fibre networks, while promoting competition and protecting consumers from high prices. People need reliable phone and broadband services more than ever. We’re making sure the market is delivering the best possible services for homes and business across the UK”
 
 
Ofcom wants to provide incentives to invest in ultrafast networks, while promoting competition and protecting consumers from high prices. BT is required by Ofcom to allow competing broadband companies to use its network to sell broadband services to people and businesses. Openreach offers fibre packages of varying speeds, and levies a different wholesale charge to providers for using each one.
 
As more people continue to take superfast broadband over the coming years, Ofcom’s analysis shows that the most important package will be one offering a 40 Mbit/s download speed, and 10 Mbit/s upload speed.
 
Until now, BT’s ability to raise prices has been constrained by people’s willingness to consider cheaper, standard broadband as an alternative. However, this constraint is weakening, as people require faster, more reliable connections to support a new generation of online services.
 
So Ofcom intends to reduce Openreach’s charges for its ‘40/10’ Mbit/s broadband package, with the price falling from today’s level of £88.80 per year to £52.77 in 2020/21.1 We would expect much of this reduction to be passed through by retail providers to their customers, resulting in lower bills.
 
Ofcom is not proposing to cap Openreach’s wholesale charges for its higher-speed packages including its planned new G.Fast network, as we expect the cap on the 40/10 Mbit/s package should be sufficient to protect competition and protect consumers from higher prices.
 
Regulating the price of the 40/10 Mbit/s package would help BT’s rivals to compete for customers. Our proposals also provide an incentive for BT’s rivals to invest in their own ultrafast networks for the longer term. Standard broadband delivered over Openreach’s copper network will continue to be subject to a charge control with the price remaining broadly stable.
 
Service problems can occur at the telephone exchange, on the lines that connect homes and businesses, or be due to factors outside Openreach’s control, such as faulty equipment in the home, or poor customer service (see graphic below). The whole sector – not just Openreach – has a role to play in delivering significantly better quality of service than it does today.
 
Where faults fall on Openreach to fix, Ofcom is proposing that it will in future be required to: complete 93% of fault repairs within one to two working days of being notified, compared with 80% today; complete 97% of repairs no later than six or seven working days; provide an appointment for 90% of new line installations within 10 working days of being notified, compared to 80% within 12 days currently; and install 95% of connections on the date agreed between
Openreach and the telecoms provider, up from 90% today.
 
These new requirements would need to be met in full by 2020/21. Ofcom has also proposed transitional targets to ensure progressive improvements in service before then. Ofcom will monitor Openreach’s performance closely and step in if the required standards are not met.2
 
Today’s proposals are part of a range of measures designed to allow telecoms providers to compete effectively and to ensure that they provide the quality of service that customers expect.
 
Separately, Ofcom is already consulting on plans to offer broadband and telephone customers automatic compensation when things go wrong. We will also shortly be launching new performance tables on quality of service, identifying the best and worst operators on a range of performance measures so that customers can shop around with confidence.
 
Openreach fixes faults with the wire, and some problems at the exchange. Other providers fix the Wi-Fi router and some problems at the exchange and in their own network.
 
These measures form part of Ofcom’s Wholesale Local Access Market Review for the period from April 2018 to March 2021. The consultations close on 9 June 2017, and Ofcom expects to publish its final decisions in early 2018, with new rules taking effect on 1 April 2018. As part of this market review, Ofcom will also consult soon on detailed plans to open up BT’s network of telegraph poles and underground tunnels to competitors. This should further promote competitive investment in full-fibre, ultrafast networks.
 
 
 
 

Virgin Media overstated superfast broadband rollout

Virgin Media has suspended four members of staff and begun an investigation after it admitted overstating the expansion of its superfast broadband network, dubbed Project Lightning.

 
Virgin Media has suspended four members of staff and begun an investigation after it admitted overstating the expansion of its superfast broadband network, dubbed Project Lightning.
 
According to parent company Liberty Global, Virgin Media originally said it had connected 465,000 new premises in the UK and Ireland in 2016. But following a review, that number has been revised down to 314,000. Liberty said Virgin had exaggerated how fast it could complete the connections.
 
In a regulatory filing, the US company explained that – under Virgin’s own reporting standards – the figures included premises where installation work was “essentially complete” but not actually finished. That included 142,000 sites that had been expected to be connected during the first three months of 2017.
 
However, Liberty said that in late February 2017, it had discovered that “the construction work necessary to connect a substantial number of [these premises] had not progressed as originally understood”. This prompted it to carry out a review, in which it found “the completion status” of some premises had been “misrepresented”.
 
Liberty also said Virgin Media had “inadvertently” classified a further 9,000 unfinished premises as connected, when they had not been.
 
Four Virgin Media employees have been suspended in connection with Liberty’s investigation and could face disciplinary action “including dismissal”. The company said the setback would affect the total number of premises Virgin Media connected during the first half of 2017.
 
However, it said it had taken steps to speed up Project Lightning, including appointing a new managing director, Robert Evans, to lead the scheme. It also said Virgin would no longer include uncompleted connections in its figures.
 
Launched in 2015, Virgin’s Project Lightning is designed to connect about four million more UK homes and businesses to broadband speeds of 300Mbs. By the end of December it had reached 567,000 premises in total – down from the 718,000 previously reported.
 
 

Ofcom say elderly are ‘hit by line rental charges’

Recent increases in line rental charges have hit elderly people the hardest, according to a recent Ofcom report.
  
Recent increases in line rental charges have hit elderly people the hardest, according to a recent Ofcom report.
 
Between December 2009 and December 2016, line rental prices had increased by as much as 49% for some customers, the regulator said. And of the people with standalone landlines in their homes, 71% were aged 65 or over. A huge proportion (43%) of the 2.9 million households with a landline only are occupied by people aged 75 and over.
 
Ofcom recently revealed plans to make BT – with nearly 80% of the UK market – cut line rental costs by £5.
 
“Older consumers are particularly affected, as they are more likely to be dependent on fixed voice services if they do not have a mobile phone or an internet connection,” the report said. Ofcom also said it was “concerned” BT’s low cost option for landline-only customers – BT Basic Tariff – had not been taken up by many of the households that could benefit from it.
 
The service costs £5.10 per month and provides customers with line rental and calls worth £1.50, with free calls at weekends. “We… are working with BT, the Department for Work and Pensions and other organisations to raise awareness,” Ofcom said.
 
 
 
 
 
 

BT extends TV rights until 2021 in deal worth £1.2bn

BT Sport will remain the exclusive UK home of all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football, it was confirmed today.
  
BT Sport will remain the exclusive UK home of all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football, it was confirmed today.
 
Following a competitive auction process, BT has secured the rights until the end of the 2020/21 season that for the first time brings together exclusivity across all live games, highlights and in-match clips of both competitions. 
 
The UEFA Champions League is set to be even stronger from 2018/19, with a minimum of four participating teams now guaranteed from each of England, Spain, Germany and Italy, resulting in more games between the top European teams. Fans will also be able to enjoy UEFA Champions League ‘double header’ nights, as live matches will kick off at both 6pm and 8pm during the Group Stage. 
 
BT will continue to show UEFA matches using the latest broadcast innovation and technology, with games made available in 4K ultra high definition with Dolby Atmos sound, and via the award-winning BT Sport App. 
 
BT will enhance its social media coverage to reach new audiences, by making clips, weekly highlights, UEFA’s magazine show, and both finals available for free on social media. BT streamed both finals last year on YouTube for the first time, taking the number of people who watched BT’s live coverage of the finals to more than twelve million. The company will also seek to bring the best of the action to its large mobile customer base.
 
John Petter, Consumer CEO at BT, said: “We are delighted to have renewed these rights. The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League are two of the best competitions in the world and we would like to thank UEFA for choosing us as their exclusive broadcast partner in the UK. The UEFA Champions League is due to get even stronger and we are delighted that fans will be able to enjoy two live matches a night for the first time.”
 
Guy Laurent Epstein, UEFA marketing director, said “UEFA is delighted to have extended the relationship with BT Sport for a further three seasons, taking our partnership to 2021. BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways. BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.”
 
 BT has made top tier sport far more affordable in the UK in recent years. BT TV customers can access all of the action on BT Sport from just £3.50 a month and the company has also made its channels available to customers of EE.
 
BT will pay around £394m each year for the rights. Following the acquisition of EE last year which more than doubled BT’s marketable customer base, BT is in a strong position to monetise this investment through subscription, wholesale, commercial, and advertising revenues.