Trying to connect: telecommunications access and affordability among people experiencing financial hardship

Telecommunications Youth Digital divide Digital communications Internet access Access to information Australia
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With rapid changes in telecommunications technology comes concern about inequalities opening up between those who have access to the information and other benefits new telecommunications technology transfers and those who do not.

Anglicare Victoria’s Hardship Survey 2013 focussed on the affordability and accessibility of telecommunication technology among it’s low-income sample. Early in 2013 a total of 325 clients were surveyed across 25 Emergency Relief and Financial Counseling services located right across metropolitan and nonmetropolitan Victoria.

The findings show that:

  • telecommunications are not universally accessible
  • deprivation of home Internet (49.2%) and mobile Internet (56.1%) were unacceptably high
  • clients living with dependent children had better access to home Internet than other clients
  • too many clients with home Internet relied on a dial-up/phone service, particularly in non-metropolitan areas
  • the majority of clients see the benefits of home Internet access
  • deprivation of home phone was high (38.2%), although clients prefer mobile phone to home phone
  • mobile phone ownership is widespread and essential to client’s lives
  • almost half (45.2%) of clients with mobile phones used it as their only form of telecommunication
  • monthly expenditure on mobile phone was low relative to other forms of telecommunications and the majority of users consider it somewhat or very affordable.
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