In this study over 500 Centrelink recipients were surveyed to identify the importance of telecommunications and assess the issues associated with cost. A series of focus groups were also conducted. The research assessed the extent of the communications poverty premium for low-income consumers, including the role this plays in barring low-income consumers from choosing the services that best suit their needs and whether the most common billing methods such as direct debit and 28 day billing cycles are compounding difficulties in maintaining connectivity. Findings include:
66% of low income consumers rated telecommunication costs in the top five most important factors in their day to day household budgets;
62% reported experiencing either difficulty paying, having to cut back, or having to stop using one or more telecommunications services for financial reasons in the last 12 months;
those on Newstart, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment are most likely to have difficulty paying, be cutting back or stopping their telecommunications services, while those on the Age Pension have the fewest problems; low income families with dependent children are experiencing higher rates of financial difficulty with telecommunications than those without children; and
around half of respondents said that they always, usually or sometimes limit their use of a mobile phone, while just under half limited their use of a landline phone (43%) and the internet (41%), and 10% stopped using a landline altogether.
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network 2016