Our research has repeatedly confirmed how quickly some things have moved from being luxuries to become necessities. People living in rural areas are not alone in thinking of the car as a necessity. But the mobile phone is much the clearest example of this shift – invaluable and prioritised by everyone from refugees to unemployed teenagers. Given the importance of social contact to mental wellbeing and life opportunities, perhaps this should be reflected in how essential support is provided to people in hardship, and in regulation that already treats some other utilities as necessities. Access to the internet is also becoming a necessity (not least as public services go more fully online) and for many the mobile will be the main point of access.
Perhaps someone should tell Lord Mandelson, before households start being disconnected on the basis of unverified allegations of copyright infringement?