Bin your landline. If you can.

2 May 2011

telephoneSome of you are probably old enough to remember times when every house didn't have a phone.  In an emergency, perhaps you had to run down the street to your neighbour and use their phone. Flash gits. The folks on the Mobot side of the office are far too young to recall those strenuous times.

Well, times they are a-changing and not having a phone is becoming more and more common.

Of course, these people are not eschewing verbal conversation entirely, they are merely giving their land line the brush off. According to phone services regulator Ofcom, about 80% of households had both a fixed line and mobiles in the first quarter of 2006, while only 10% had a mobile only. In the first quarter of 2010, 78% had a fixed and mobile service, while 14% had a mobile only.

Perhaps some of the reason for this can be laid at the door of the telecommunications companies themselves. All the major players in the UK market have recently announced price rises to their land line service- Talk Talk's charges have just increased from £12.04 to £12.60 a month, BT  increased rates from £13.60 to £13.90 last week and Virgin Media's increase from £12.24 to £12.99 applied from the start of April. Sky is also set to raise rates next month but has yet to announce by how much.

Another reason could be the fact that the cost of mobile calls is falling, while the cost of landline calls is rising. Ofcom reports that mobile calls have dropped from an average 15.1p a minute in 2004, to 8.8p in 2009 while the cost of land line calls has risen from 6.6p to 7.3p. Two years on, it is likely that mobile calls cost the same, or cheaper, than land line calls.

So why doesn't everyone ditch the landline then? Well, quite simply because the telephone companies would much rather you didn't, and services included in bundles including a land line are cheaper than those without. For example,  you can get a broadband deal from Plusnet at £3.24 a month, plus £11.99 a month for land line (including evening and weekend calls) making a total of £15.23. This is £5.77 less than Virgin’s broadband-only deal at £21, which only offers half the broadband speed at 10Mb.

Of course, the phone companies would have you believe that they need to run a landline to your house in order to supply your services, but in reality, this is a rapidly dwindling good reason. Virgin already uses a fibre optics network to deliver its broadband and TV services, and BT is upgrading its lines to fibre optics. However BT still require customers to have a land line, as do Plusnet, which has also recently launched fibre optics to about 10% of its customers. Perhaps firms are reluctant to give up their lucrative land line customers...

TOPICS:   Broadband   Technology   Mobile

33 comments

  • Delenn
    I don't want a landline, but I do want broadband. Therefore, I have to pay for a landline whether or not I want it. The second I can do away with it, but still get broadband, I will.
  • Javaman
    Same as Delenn - if I could get my broadband without the land-line then I'd take the offer up in an instant.
  • wave
    Same as others - unfortunately have to have landline for the broadband. Ofcom need to step in and make it clear that we don't need a landline to have broadband. BTW is Sam new to the team?
  • Nick T.
    Ditto all the above.
  • James
    Fibre optic will be the death of the landline. I live in a fibre optic area and recieve my internet through Virgin Media. I was offered a landline for an extra £1 a month so took them up on the offer, but have used it a handful of times to call 08 numbers (which are still a rip off on mobiles). When I move house in a few months, I'll be ditching the landline.
  • Sawyer
    I actually prefer a landline for lengthy conversations - say anything over 30 seconds. Mobiles are not much fun to talk on, with their weird noises, rubbish call quality and sweaty earpieces. Not to mention a 10-minute call on a modern smartphone will cost you 6 hours of standby battery life. That said, the amount of use my landline actually gets is definitely not worth the line rental, and I'm sure I could find a cheaper workaround (Skype, perhaps?) when I do want to make a call.
  • Alan G.
    It gets worse, when companies like Sky insist that your sky box is always connected to a phone line during your contract period.
  • Justin A.
    I end up answering my landline phone to fend off unwelcome marketing calls more than anything. Usually they're asking for the people that previously had my number. We need the tech to advance to the point where broadband is airborne and entered via password log-ins with no cables at all.
  • Slacker
    "Mobiles are not much fun to talk on, with their weird noises, rubbish call quality and sweaty earpieces. Not to mention a 10-minute call on a modern smartphone will cost you 6 hours of standby battery life." This, and I don't much like the idea of repeatedly microwaving my head, thanks.
  • Al_Jolson
    Bin Landline? Did we not just kill him?
  • John
    You have to have a landline for some forms of credit. Its also a minus on a credit score with just about every finance company.
  • Delenn
    John, is that true? That's crazy. Why on earth should me having a landline have anything to do with my credit worthiness?
  • Baconbuttie
    "Virgin’s broadband-only deal at £21, which only offers half the broadband speed at 10Mb" Really? thats not what ofcom found when they said Virgin are nearly double the average speed of DSL connections? Get it right.
  • emsquared
    We've been landline free for around 4 years now with broadband only cable and an Internet phone (not Skype but that would be an equally valid solution too). The plus.net price comparison isn't quite a fair comparison due to the low (ish) Internet usage limit but is a valid solution for those of us who don't access such bandwidth sucking things like the BBC iplayer on a regular basis. I find it hard to believe that line rental for a phones is still with us still. Even the cable companies charge phone line rental now. Just daft.
  • Tim
    @Delenn - yes it's true. Credit checks often use a landline as an additional check as they are verifiable through credit check companies against the address they are registered to. They usually won't accept mobile phones as the primary number as it's dead easy to get a mobile number without specifying an address, especially by picking up a PAYG sim. I've had many situations through applying for credit and even just down to ordering things over the internet, where a landline is required and mobile won't do. Bonuses of a landline also includes miles better reception and I don't feel the heat off the phone if I have it next to my head for an hour. Yes landlines cost line rental, but that generally gets you free evening and weekend calls to other landlines these days. Yes mobiles have inclusive minutes, but the monthly cost is much the same or indeed much more than line rental. Alternative however is VoIP. I use a SIP based service which works either via a phone connected to my router or via my mobile using WLAN. The call quality is amazing, and prices are cheap, plus no line rental. Credit companies may still reject it though as you can get these numbers unconnected to an address (when I got mine they let me pick any local dialling code in the UK and gave me a number, regardless of whether I lived there!). Anyway, I require a landline for broadband, though I have an option of hybrid* fibre coax with Virgin but I hate them so much I'd never touch them ever again. * - Yes, most of what people call fibre, is not fibre. Standard Virgin phone lines are still copper wire from cabinet to house and the broadband is coax. However Virgin do provide the option of getting the coax signal with no signal down the copper, so no landline. The equivalent Fibre to Cabinet from BT relies on copper for broadband and phone for the last stretch to the house, and I suspect that means still needing the phone line.
  • busby
    Technically there is no reason you can't have ADSL with no dial tone/phone. However dial tone is required in the UK at the moment due to service agreements between openreach (bt's hived off engineering division) and the service providers. You pay a service charge/maintenance charge on your dial tone but not your broadband. Should naked DSL become available in the UK (which it will) you'll see base broadband prices increase to include the cost of a service contract.
  • dvdj
    My Dad's with Virgin and pay's about £100 a month for the Top TV package, 20 or 30meg broadband and landline. He tried to knockoff the landline as he didn't use it but it would actually cost him more they told him as he get's a discount for having all three products, mental and pointless.
  • axisofevil
    At least you can use a landline during a power cut - even if your mobile has gone flat.
  • Mark H.
    I pay £120 a year line rental to BT plus £3 for unlimited calls to landlines and some 08 numbers - so £13 a month. I then use 18185 for calls to mobiles (about 6p or 7p a minute). I doubt you'd beat that on a mobile deal. AMIRITE?
  • Late
    I ditched my landline about six or seven years ago. Broadband from Virgin (was ntl) by cable, and several mobile phones in the house (myself on contract, the wife & kids on PAYG). We're not short of options if we want to call someone, and if someone wants one of us they generally phoned the individual's mobile even when we had the landline. My contract gives me a nice new phone every 18 months (currently the San Fran), I get unlimited free calls to landlines and to most of my friends and family's mobiles, I get over 1000 free texts a month, 300 free minutes, 500mb data, plus other stuff - and never get anywhere near those limits. And that comes in at £10.21 per month. So, no, you're wrong Mark H...
  • Mark H.
    @ Late What a complete and utter load of horse shit. There's no mobile contract on this planet that gives you all that for a tenner a month...
  • Another A.
    I would have gone without, but for the fact that it costs only £2 a month on top of the price of naked internet from Virgin. I still hold it looks good on forms, as well.
  • Late
    @ Mark H Guess again, asshat. Why would I make it up? http://img199.imageshack.us/img199/2549/orangeinvoice.jpg
  • Bob H.
    It's good to talk
  • Mark H.
    @ Late The tariff you are on costs £25 a month. Yes you personally are getting some decent 'loyalty' discounts on there but how much have you had to spend with Orange to get them? If someone can show me a 12 month £13 a month contract with unlimited landline calls open to new customers then I'll STFU. But even then your family and friends have to pay a premium to talk to you on your mobile unless they're on a mobile contract too. As it stands I speak to my family for free and they speak to me for free (except the line rental of course). If you're genuinely wanting cheaper/free calls then surely Skype is a better option than a mobile contract.
  • Late
    Until the recent VAT increase pushed my monthly charge up from £10.00 to £10.21, my standard bill has never been above £10 - in the 12 years or so I've been with Orange. In fact I'd guess I've only ever paid more than £15 for a month once in that time, and that was an error on their part that they later refunded (plus £10 credit for inconvenience). So I'm not getting a good deal due to paying so much to Orange. It adds up to a lot over the years, but the same applies to everyone's landlines etc. The rrp on that tariff may be £25, but I've never paid the rrp for it. I've never even asked for a discount or any bonus texts/calls/etc to be thrown in. I've shown the package they offered me when my contract was last up for renewal, and the price they offered it to me. I maybe could've gotten more minutes/texts etc if I'd asked, but I've never felt the need to ask. They treat me well and I'm happy with the deal they give me, which has considerably more minutes/texts than I'll ever need. I've no idea if they or other companies offer similar to new customers. I don't shop around. I just phone my mobile provider when my contract is about to run out, and always sign up for another 12-18 months when I hear all the stuff they want to give me for my tenner a month. If they're giving me the deal without me pushing then I'd imagine it's not a difficult contract to get. As for family and friends possibly having to pay a premium to speak to me - nope; most are on Orange, so I have them as "magic numbers" and free to call, so if they don't have me as a magic number they have the option to call and hang up and I'll call them back for free. I'll concede that that's something that's accumulated over time - you start with only one and you can add another every six months. I did have a skype account, but it's out of credit due to inactivity on the account. I think Skype brilliant, particularly if you have relatives living abroad, but I have no real need for it personally - if all your calls on your mobile are free there's little need for free internet calls...
  • Paulus
    When your friends or relatives call your mobile from their landline does it cost more than a landline to landline call? If so, I doubt many people will be 'phoning you after getting their bill. (perhaps that's not so bad!)
  • Late
    Haven't a clue how much it costs to phone a mobile from a landline. Now I think about it, I very rarely get phonecalls from landlines. I've always put that down to landlines being an antiquated form of communication, in my mind*, but perhaps it's because it's expensive to call mobiles. You folks with landlines will me more likely to be able to answer that one, I guess. *I appreciate there's decent DECT phones nowadays, but my last phone on a landline was a cheap piece of junk, kept on a shelf under the stairs - with no chair and no natural light. If I wanted to phone someone I'd infinitely prefer to use the mobile, and sit in the front room or the garden. I still think of landlines as the dingy, uncomfortable, expensive, and utterly pointless thing that that last phone was to me, but of course the first two of those four adjectives won't apply to everyone!
  • Frank
    Ive never understood why we have to pay for a landline, if the likes of Talk Talk, BT & Virgin Media want us to use there service why is it we're not paying for just what we use, quote me if im wrong but we dont pay British Gas for rental for the pipe or the electricity cable to the house, i think if more people called there landline provider and told them you wanted to get rid of the landline the provider would have to seriously think about either drastically reducing or getting rid of the landline altogether.
  • Ana L.
    "Virgin Media up to 10Mb broadband...£5/month...for 3 months...then £13.50/month*" "*Plus a Virgin Phone line for £12.99 a month" Virgin may give you broadband without the need of a landline, but have you noticed how the braodband deal is subject to a landline*... otherwise the Broadband price is an extra £12.99... thats the same as having a landline (they basically charge for it, even though you dont want it or have it installed) I personally use 3G mobile bb, it gives me 3GB for £15.00 a month, I can surf all I want, sadly no long videos or documentaries.... but for everyday stuff (emails/surfing/skype) it does me about 30 days. Why do they have to rip us off for Broadband??
  • kabuki
    Why I left BT, 7.96 per minute,it should read 7.96+11.9 connection +20% vat for the first minute. Total=24 pence+line rental shared out across your calls+paper bill. I ditched BT a year ago and neverlooked back. I get my internet for free from 3 Mobile on pay as you go.I pay £15 per month on there price plan ALL IN ONE 15,for that I get 400 MIN 3000 TEX and free internet.
  • KABUKI
    If you do decide to go over to 3 Mobile don't buy a dongle they are a wast of time,all smart phones can be tethered to your pc, then you can use the usb or you can hotspot your phone which means anyone can use your internet wireless if they have your password
  • Brian M.
    This having to have a landline is really pissing me off what a rip off ... basically I'm paying for the privilege of being cold called 30 times a week most annoying off con should be protecting us from this garbage

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