/ Home & Energy

Do you get value for money from your line rental?

landline

Up to a million people have been paying over the odds for their line rental. Those BT customers whose landline is their only connection to friends and family will see their monthly bill reduced by £7.

In an age when you can change the temperature of your home from your phone and turn on your lights and kettle with a few spoken words as you walk in the front door, it’s easy to forget that some people are quite content not being connected to the world wide web.

I personally don’t know where I’d be without my broadband connection. Waking up to international news on a service of my choosing, figuring out my commute before leaving the house, and the sea of streaming services and my games console on-hand when all I want to do is veg out. What a time to be alive!

But, for many people, having this same connection with the rest of the world is not a necessity like other utilities. Whereas, for those of my generation, going a week without being able to check Instagram can feel as inhibiting as not having hot water.

Only line of communication

This is why I’ve always felt it incredibly unjust that people like my elderly relatives, whose only means of communication with the outside is their landline, should face similar line rental charges as those who enjoy huge amounts of broadband content. My nans don’t know their podcasts from their Amazon Echo, so why should they pay the same as me when I use my landline to download and stream scores of gigabytes every month.

And, conversely, I don’t even have a house phone! We’ll leave whether I should be entitled to a discount on my line rental for a future convo.

So naturally, myself and my-internet-uninitiated family members welcome the news that BT is cutting line rental charges for nearly a million of their landline-only customers. Especially as this reduction may amount to a significant saving of £84 a year, or 37% off their phone bill.

Compared to people who buy bundles that include broadband, pay-TV and landline, customers like my grandparents have been getting poor value for money for a long time. The industry regulator Ofcom has said that nearly seven out of 10 (66%) landline-only customers are over 65 and more than three quarters (77%) of those have never switched to a better deal.

£7 a month saving

Against a backdrop of rising line rental prices and falling wholesale costs Ofcom proposed BT cut the monthly bills its landline-only customers receive by between £5 and £7. BT has now agreed to those proposals in full and will be reducing monthly line rental charges for these people by £7 from April 2018.

What a result for Nanny Samways and all those BT landline-only customers who will now see their phone bills slashed. However, Ofcom should press on and continue to boost industry transparency and fairness. It’s important that everyone has access the right deal for them.

Do you know anyone who has been paying over the odds for their line rental? Do you think Ofcom has done enough to bring value for money to those who only have a home phone with BT? Should I get a discount for not having a home phone at all? 😋

Comments
Member

Whilst I welcome the news that my landline rental will be dropping, I’m rather lost by the fact it will take a tech company another 6 months to implement it. Oh and it you’re wondering how I’m writing this when I only have a BT landline, I choose o have my broadband provided not down rusty old copper cable.

I would also like to have seen OFCOM make caller id/display a freebie for everyone, w/o the need to take a bundle/pay for a year rental upfront and even then still need to activate it.

Member
elaine m says:
28 October 2017

Ofcom have indeed said that from October 2018 caller display must be free !

Member

So we have to wait another year, time companies and business grops were banned from lobbying govts and regulators.

Member

BT and other telecom companies would already have the ability to change the price of caller display instantly, so they have no excuse for not setting the price to £0.00 now.

But you can bet your life they will keep charging us for it until October 2018.

Member

Most of the calls I make are on the mobile. On the other hand I prefer to receive calls on the landline because there is always a handset nearby, whereas the mobile might be on charge or in another room. I keep hoping someone will devise a mobile dock that allows calls to be made on the mobile from multiple inexpensive handsets.

I also have to be careful about the numbers I call via the landline, whereas I have an unlimited call allowance on the mobile. It’s annoying that it’s an inclusive call to ring a landline from my mobile whereas it is not if I call a mobile from the landline.

No I’m not getting value for money and a price reduction will be welcome.

Member
THELMA HIRST says:
3 April 2018

i agree , and a price reduction is long over due

Member
bishbut says:
27 October 2017

Call display must be made free How much does your unlimited bundle cost wavechange I hope is the cheapest for you ? it is not the cheapest for everyone

Member

My mobile costs £15.40 a month including 5GB data, which I use mainly for tethering to a laptop when away from home. I bought the phone separately. I’m restricted to which network I use because of signal coverage. I might be able to get a better deal with one of the MVNOs (they use the main mobile networks) but I had no luck finding one that used the network I needed + 4G + sufficient data + allowed tethering.

Member
bishbut says:
27 October 2017

If you are happy whit what you have I have no more to say thanks wavechange Happy people should have no need to moan or complain I comment but rarely complain unless I am not happy with something then I do

Member

It would have been useful to see the charges BT make explained – I don’t use them. There is this long document http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/assets/pdf/BT_PhoneTariff_Residential.pdf
If you need a line to your premises, with the attendant equipment at the exchange and en route that needs providing and maintaining, then it needs to be paid for. How to do this fairly?

As far am aware we used to do this with a rental charge, on top of which you purchased a call plan if you used the phone, and broadband if you required that. at some stage it was declared “unfair” to show line rental separately, I believe – for the life of me I cannot understand why being transparent about pricing was deemed “unfair”.

For the rental, should this be based only on how much traffic you create? Number and duration of calls, data transfer, for example? Someone who very rarely uses the phone would then pay virtually nothing for the upkeep of the service they wish to use. For certain vulnerable people, BT do (?did) offer BT Basic,, a £5.50 a month rental that included £1.50 in calls.

BT will maintain its profits, so reducing the income it gets from one sector will be made up for from another – if some subscribers pay less, some will pay more.

So I’d find it useful if we saw proposals, as with energy for example, as to how we think the telephone service should be charged in a way that is fair to the consumer and the provider. We can all try to dictate how we should pay a company for a service, but that will usually be coloureds by our own personal circumstances. We need to think more broadly perhaps.

Member

An increasing number of people never use their landline to make phone calls. The only reason they have a landline is to make use of broadband. They are not making use of the exchange equipment that enables phone users to make and receive calls and won’t need an entry in the phone book. We don’t expect phone users to contribute to the cost the equipment used to provide broadband services unless they are broadband users. Thus I would expect those who use both phone + broadband to pay higher fixed charges than those who use either service.

I would prefer to see ‘unlimited’ broadband tariffs phased out, at least until copper broadband has been replaced by proper fibre (FTTP) because heavy users can slow down the service for other users.

Member

Do they not have a phone number allocated when they rent a landline? If so, they could make and receive calls at any time and, even if they do not, the equipment is still available to them at the exchange. I suppose this all stems from an evolutionary process – first was a phone line and instrument, then dial up broadband, then proper broadband, all alongside the growth in mobile phone use.

I’m for a restructuring of charges that reflect the equipment you need (so a fixed charge) and the use you then make of it – either metered calls and broadband or a package price. As long as we realise it can never be completely “fair” to everyone, no more than your council tax, income tax, national insurance are for example – people will make more use than others of what they fund.

Member

I’m no expert but I’m sure that the phone function can be disabled at the exchange if not required. As you say, charges should be fair to both the consumer and provider, but there many people who make all their calls on a mobile nowadays. These include many young people and practically all students.

I’m happy to pay for a landline but in the early Conversations it was frequently pointed out that consumers were being asked to pay for a landline that would not be used for phone calls. You are absolutely right about the historical basis of phone lines, where the ability to provide internet access became an added use of phone lines.

Member

Malcolm – BT , like other ISP,s have integrated the line rental into the bundle charges , it is not separate now. A telephone line is provided with a number and you pay for the upkeep of that line otherwise no broadband ,this includes exchange equipment . If you want line only then go to Virgin Media cable company they do it .

Member

I thought so duncan. I believe it was a big mistake when Ofcom required the line rental to be bundled up with the application(s), whether phone, b/b or tv. I like to see what makes up a cost and line rental highlighted that particular component.

Member
bishbut says:
28 October 2017

You need a land line for broadband connection but if you don’t use your phone unplug it (simple to do )then it will not ring you pay for a land line but calls are usually extra Keep the phone it then can be plugged in for emergency use when needed

Member

Wavechange said that in earlier Conversations “it was frequently pointed out that consumers were being asked to pay for a landline that would not be used for phone calls”. Our house is full of things that are rarely used – what is so special about telephone calls? Obviously the fact that you have to pay for it every time you do use it but most calling plans allow for many calls without charge or they are inclusive tariffs. Choosing not to use the installed landline is a personal choice. surely? Personally I cannot see the sense in having a landline for broadband and not using it for telecoms. .

How can using a mobile phone in the house be more convenient or comfortable than using a telephone? I make and receive two or three phone calls a day in the house, most of them are landline-based at both ends and seem to be better calling or receiving experiences. The availability of excellent portable phones with a landline base-station enables people to wander about and twirl to their heart’s content and still enjoy superior reception and transmission. The people who usually call from their mobiles seem to be continually distracted and trying to do something else as they talk which can spoil a conversation. It is not unknown for me to terminate such calls in mid flow.

Member

There are many factors that have led to the growing popularity of mobile phones and there are a significant number who never make or receive landline calls. In earlier Conversations, some pointed out that it was unfair that they should be expected to pay for a service they don’t use. I agree. Obviously the phone line itself is common to most landline and broadband services but the telephone exchange equipment and staff need not be funded by those who don’t use a landline phone, in the same way that those who don’t use broadband are not expected to contribute to the equipment needed for broadband services.

Many of the numbers in my phone are mobile numbers rather than landlines. These include people in the county council and other organisations. If I was to call mobile numbers from my landline it would be expensive, whereas my mobile tariff includes calls to landlines and mobiles. I’m happy to pay for the landline and prefer to receive calls on it because I have not got into the habit of carrying the mobile phone in my pocket.

When staying with friends and family I have noticed that the teenagers never use the landline to make calls and their friends call their mobile number.

Member

Given that telephone exchanges are digital with minimal apparatus , most of the cost of enabling people to make and receive calls by landline is in the network rather than the exchange. There are additional costs in providing a broadband service , especially where fibre is involved. I think it makes sense to charge for each service separately so that those who do not use a landline phone can be disconnected at the exchange rather than just leave the line dormant but still capable of being used to receive and make calls.

Having managed a few months ago for a few weeks without a mobile phone I have got out of the habit and forget that I have one. I believe I am saving a lot by just keeping the PAYG facility open on a minimal basis. People who live on their mobile phones also complain about the shortage of money.

Member

It would be interesting to know the costs exclusive to phone and broadband services and those (such as the wiring itself) that are used by both.

I suspect you are not calling many mobile numbers, John, otherwise if might be expensive. I have deleted mobile numbers from my landline phone handsets because calls were expensive, whereas these were inclusive calls from my mobile.

Member

The capital and operating costs of all the equipment needs to be recovered somehow. If someone elects not to use their connection for phone calls and consequently expects not to pay for the proportion of cost involved, the broadband prices will increase to restore the lost revenue. That does not seem unfair to me.

Unlimited tariffs, rather than metering, gives a guaranteed income for the provider and peace of mind for the user. It is not only heavy users that slow down broadband, is it, but multiple users? I seem to remember being told that when the Americans woke up, the service slowed noticeably. I do see entertainment as an exceptionally heavy user and, since it is provided generally for a substantial subscription, part of that should, perhaps, be a national “tax” to help fund the necessary infrastructure.

Member

All I’m suggesting is that the costs are charged fairly. Those of us who make use of both landline phone and broadband should pay more of the fixed costs than those who have no need for a landline.

I’ve frequently suggested we put an end to unlimited tariffs. It might not matter in areas which have FTTP. I don’t know if the speed is affected by the number of users.

Member

We agree in priciple. However, it is not easy to agree on what is fair. Should someone who makes greater use of their phone line pay more towards the capital and maintenance? Should broadband be metered and charged accordingly? And as fixed costs will vary from year to year, as will usage, it could only really be charged fairly in retrospect when all the numbers are known. A nightmare for accounting and bill payers. So a simplified compromise has to be reached that is readily understood. There will always be “winners and losers”.

Member

I agree that it’s complicated but what is very simple is that those who don’t use their landline for phone calls should pay less than those who do.

Member

“Many of the numbers in my phone are mobile numbers rather than landlines. These include people in the county council and other organisations. If I was to call mobile numbers from my landline it would be expensive, whereas my mobile tariff includes calls to landlines and mobiles.”

Most landline providers offer inclusive calls to mobile numbers and have done so for some time. BT is now the only major landline provider not offer this.

Inclusive allowances usually cover:
– UK landline numbers starting 01 and 02
– non-geographic numbers starting 03
– UK mobile numbers starting 071-075 and 077-079.

Some landline providers also cover calls to premium rate numbers starting 0845 and/or 0870, but this is very much in decline.

Member

“I believe it was a big mistake when Ofcom required the line rental to be bundled up with the application(s), whether phone, broadband or TV. I like to see what makes up a cost and line rental highlighted that particular component.”

It has been long recognised that broadband providers were understating the cost of broadband and subsidising it by inflating the line rental.

If there are two competing broadband products advertised as “£5 per month plus line rental” and “£10 per month plus line rental” most people would gravitate towards the £5 deal. But what if that is “£5 plus £25” (= £30) and the other one is “£10 plus £15” (= £25)? If you chose the “£5” deal then you chose the overall more expensive deal.

Providers offering “free” broadband for a year, were not offering it for free. They had bumped up the line rental cost to cover it. It’s like the old spoof advert…”FREE CAR when you buy this steering wheel for eight thousand pounds”. This misleading pricing had to end.

An additional problem created by this sort of deception is that the inflated line rental charges are also being paid by those who do not have broadband.

Ofcom played the long game to get the result they wanted.

They tackled this in several steps. First, they required the combined cost of line rental and broadband to be stated so that deals could be compared on the full retail price. That allowed products to be compared on equal terms.

Next, they have got BT to admit they are overcharging for line rental for landline-only customers and to reduce it by £7 per month.

In forcing BT to reduce line rental for their landline-only customers, competition will also see the other landline providers reduce their rate. If they do not, they will lose customers back to BT. Remember, these are people who have previously moved away from BT so already know about switching provider to find the best deal.

The overall cost of line rental and broadband will not change, but the real cost of the broadband component is now fully exposed – no longer hidden by inflated line rental charges. The cost of broadband is the “broadband plus line rental” charge minus the “line-rental only” charge.

Member

I would have looked at the line rental plus call package and/or plus broadband to evaluate an offer.

Member

Wavechange – No, I am not calling many mobile numbers. Most of my calls are to people in commercial or public service organisations and I use their landline numbers. If I don’t know their extension I go through their switchboard. For family and friends my calls are rarely urgent and I send letters, cards or e-mail messages. For voluntary activities we tend to make fixtures and stick to them and don’t need to make contact with each other in advance. These measures are not for reasons of economy, it’s just the way I prefer to do things. I just can’t understand the need for constant catch-up and dialogue.

Member

John – I’m not suggesting that you or anyone else switches to using a mobile. My point is simply that the fixed charges should be less for those who use only broadband services than for those who use broadband plus phone.

Many companies and other organisations provide their employees with mobile phones instead of landlines or (in the case of senior staff) in addition to landline phones. I’m fortunate to have been given mobile numbers of people I have regular contact with, which saves the tedious job of going through the switchboard and often finding they are out of their office. At present it would be expensive for me to call from my landline. I look forward to having the inclusive calls to mobiles from my landline, as mentioned by Ian.

Member

If you are with PlusNet, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media or any of the many other landline providers and are on an unlimited anytime call package, you already have inclusive calls to mobile numbers. Only BT is failing to offer this facility. Given the drop in mobile termination rates over the last few years, there is now no excuse to not offer this. Additionally, as BT now owns the UK’s largest mobile provider, EE, it is inexplicable that this is not yet offered.

Member
Nicky says:
28 October 2017

I just changed my mother’s (has dementia & is her lifeline) landline from BT standard tariff to The Post Office- thereby making a whopping cost saving considering the measly amount of calls she makes. BT then charged us for finishing the contract earlier! I actually wrote to BT to say I felt it was discriminatory & that they should be providing a low cost option service to people who are some of society’s most vulnerable. There is one but it’s means tested so again for all those who’ve saved miss out. Happy to report BT did refund the extra charge & did listen.

Member

I am on BT’s ‘Anytime Call’ option and pay my annual line rental in advance every J