British consumers now consider their smartphones and Internet connections essential to their everyday health and wellbeing, research from Ofcom has found.
Surveying nearly 2,000 UK adults, the industry watchdog found that 61% of consumers rated voice services (mobile or landline) as essential, 59% considered mobile voice or text services as essential, while 57% regarded personal internet access as essential.
Age proved to be a key factor in defining which services were considered essential, with 61% of those aged 75 and over unable to do without a landline, compared with just 12% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
Accessing the internet via a smartphone was considered essential to 53% of 16 to 24-year-olds but to no one aged 75 and above.
The study was carried out by Ofcom as part of an investigation into whether such 'essential' services are available and affordable for UK consumers, and whether they are getting good value for money.
Overall, the survey found that 95% of UK households have at least one mobile phone, 84% have a landline and 82% an Internet connection.
Ofcom has found that consumers had benefitted from falling prices and an increase in choice and quality over the last 10 years.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: "While it's encouraging that the majority of people don't experience difficulties paying for their communications services, it's important that help is available for those who do.
"We're working to ensure that all consumers can benefit from the communications services which are most important for modern life."
7% of consumers said they would like to have broadband but don't because of the cost.