/ Technology

Do you still use your landline?

Landline or mobile

Do you still use your landline at home to make calls – or are you one of the growing number happy to rely on a mobile?

In our house, it sometimes seems that the only calls we get on our landline these days are from people trying to sell us something or fool us into falling for some scam.

Could it be that the personal phone call is really going the way of the personal handwritten letter?

It seems some households are starting to think this way.

The percentage of UK households with a landline has fallen gradually from 95% in 2000 to 88% in 2012, while the percentage of mobile-only homes rose from 10% in 2006 to 15% in the first quarter of 2015.

Of course that means the vast majority of us still have a home phone. But is it really little more than an ornament gathering dust?

Earlier this year, culture minister Ed Vaizey even suggested that householders signing up for broadband packages could be exempted from the rental charge on their landline if they don’t use it.

One in five homeowners don’t make fixed-line calls, but have to pay for landline connections.

The case for mobile phones

Those who love their mobile might point to their convenience and to the great variety of things you can do with them.

Mobiles phones have started to define the daily life of many, if not most, adults in the UK. We use them to plan out our days, weeks, months and years, to stay in contact, to browse the internet, and exchange goods and services. In short, they’ve become far more than just phones.

Not surprising then, that users worldwide are forecast to reach 4.77 billion by 2017.

The case for a landline

For a start, smartphones run out of battery incredibly quickly – landlines don’t. And you don’t have to update the landline phone’s software every other month in case its operating speed slows to a crawl.

Another factor that might save the landline from becoming a technical dinosaur is that most broadband providers use a copper wire telephone network to deliver an internet connection to your home. And this requires an active phone line.

Some people also like to keep a landline in case they need to make an emergency call and fear that their smartphone will have run out of batteries.

How often do you use your landline to make calls?

At least once a day (40%, 929 Votes)

A few times a week (33%, 778 Votes)

Rarely (20%, 474 Votes)

Never (6%, 130 Votes)

I don't have a landline (2%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,350

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Perhaps, the home phone is safe for now, but how often do you use yours? Has it had its day or do you find it’s still a vital lifeline?

Ian says:
4 July 2016

“Earlier this year, culture minister Ed Vaizey even suggested that householders signing up for broadband packages could be exempted from the rental charge on their landline if they don’t use it.”

Of course, what he should have said was “exempted from paying for a call package”. People will still need to pay for provision of the physical wiring used to deliver the broadband signal.

Ian says:
4 July 2016

For more than a decade, landline providers have offered inclusive calls to geographic numbers starting 01 and 02. These deals still represent the most cost effective way to make calls to these numbers. Since 2007, landline providers have also offered inclusive calls to non-geographic numbers starting 03.

For many years, calling mobile numbers starting 071-075 or 077-079 has been very expensive. The cheapest way to call these numbers has been to call from another mobile phone with an inclusive allowance (either on contract or on pay-as-you-talk) of some sort.

Ofcom intervened in the market in 2009 and has cut the Mobile Termination Rate from almost 4p per minute to less than 0.5p per minute in annual steps (usually on 1 April each year). This compares with around 0.21p per minute for calls to 01 and 02 numbers and around 0.56p per minute for calls to 03 numbers. The result of this change is that calling a mobile number should cost no more than calling an 01, 02 or 03 number. Evidence of this can be seen from the fact that a number of landline providers now have deals with inclusive calls to mobile numbers.

Some people use their mobile almost exclusively but will be making many of those calls while sat at home. They could save a significant sum of money by cutting the inclusive allowance down on their mobile such that it covers only the calls they will make while away from home and getting an anytime unlimited inclusive allowance on their landline to cover all of the calls they will make while at home.

Landline phone providers have botched their marketing. They promote deals with inclusive weekend calls as standard, but these deals have very expensive per-minute rates for weekday calls. Once you make more than about fifteen minutes of weekday calls per week, an anytime inclusive deal will work out cheaper. If landline providers promoted anytime inclusive deals with calls to 01, 02, 03, 071-075 and 077-079 numbers as standard, people would soon see that these deals usually offer much better value than using a mobile phone to make these calls.

Now that customer services, financial services, public services and healthcare services are no longer allowed to use 084, 087 or 09 numbers, most services have swapped to cheaper 03 numbers. As calls to 03 numbers count towards inclusive allowances in the same way as calls to 01 and 02 numbers, this further strengthens the case for an anytime all-inclusive allowance to be the best choice for most people.

I use my landline regularly and ask people to call that number before trying my mobile because there is always a phone nearby at home. I have three cordless handsets plus two corded phones (one upstairs and the other downstairs). With the mobile there is only one handset and it rarely to hand when I’m at home.

If I’m out I phone home periodically to pick up any messages left on my landline phone. Calls to mobile numbers are inclusive at the weekend but I have to call mobiles from my mobile during the week to avoid additional costs when using my landline.

I am the same as, being female and not having trouser pockets, when at home my mobile remains downstairs and I have landlines both up and downstairs. However, my offspring only ever use mobiles and never use or rarely answer their landlines. Then again I only give out my mobile number when using the Internet as it is so easy to block unwanted calls on my smartphone. I will be using my landline more in future to make calls as I have a very cheap broadband/phone package with SSE which means I get ultrafast broadband free and my phone package costs just £21 per month and includes calls 24/7 and up to 70 mins free to many foreign countries. Having got £120 cash back from Quidco the 18 month package works out at less than £7 a month. All I have to do is convince my offspring to start answering their landlines! It’s a generation thing.

I usually only use my landline for my broadband connection. I don’t normally keep a handset connected to it, but I do have one “just in case”.

Residential landlines increased slightly from 23 million end 2013 to 23.5 million end 2014. Fixed voice call minutes were 80 billion compared with mobile 137 billion. Many mobile minutes will be used when you are not at home where otherwise the landline phone may be the one of choice, particularly for the large number of pay as you go users (the last figure I found was this was over 40% of mobile phone users). Ofcom say “The majority of UK households (80%) used both fixed and mobile telephony services “. So it seems an awful lot of people not only have landlines but use them for calls.

So I suggest the landline has a lot of life left in it. It always has a signal, doesn’t run out of battery (use a cheap plug-in phone to cover this if you have wireless phones), is not so easily mislaid, and is inexpensive. And unless every person in the household has their own mobile then you might be left without a phone – younger or elderly family members perhaps – if they go out. We use ours unless calling mobiles; we have unlimited free calls to the numbers we normally use.

Ian repeats the point made in several Convos on this topic – if you have broadband through copper wires you need to contribute towards the equipment and repair/maintenance necessary.

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I don’t expect so duncan but if they did perhaps we should raise a campaign to reinstate you 🙂
I seem to have irritated Which? by asking a straightforward question to which they do not wish to reply. See “tumble driers”. Perhaps it’s just a bad hair day?

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@patrick, is this just a glitch? I can’t imagine normal responses to comments are being blocked.

Hello Duncan, I’m not sure what happened here. Did you get any screenshots of what you were seeing at all?

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Hi Duncan, thanks for explaining, I’m sorry this is happening. I’m not sure what could be causing this, there should be nothing that could prevent a comment from being posted immediately other than those containing URLs, which place comments in pending for moderation. Could you please get a screengrab of what you’re seeing and email it over to us so we can take a look – thanks

For the record I have also been having trouble lately posting. I have to repeatedly sign in with email address and password before posting. It seems intermittent as it has happened on a previous occasion.

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Ok this seems very strange, can you please get some images of what you’re seeing so that I can take this further. It’s not something we’ve seen before – sorry!

Also in the interests of keeping this conversation from being swamped with off-topic comments could you please report any further problems here for us: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/welcome-to-the-new-which-conversation/

Thanks 🙂

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Though I use my landline for phone calls and broadband I have sympathy for those that have to pay for the same landline charge and make no phone calls. Effectively they are contributing to the cost of the infrastructure for the phone exchange and other costs related to phone services. As far as I am aware, customers are not expected to contribute to the cost of providing broadband services if they only use a phone. On that basis, the fixed charges should be lower for landline-only users and broadband-only users than the charges for providing both services.

People pay for a (copper) landline rental, then on top of that for a phone package and/or a broadband package – well I do anyway. The provision, maintenance and repair of equipment, for example, for phone and broadband is surely dealt with in the rental and usage in the other parts. If the line equipment fails so will your broadband and phone. So both need to contribute, surely? Incidentally, even if you don’t make outgoing calls but take incoming ones – so no call package required – you are still making use of the equipment. Sorry if I’ve misinterpreted the point.

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The cable for the phone line and copper broadband is shared but to provide a phone service there will be the exchange equipment (not used for broadband services) and the servers etc. for broadband (not used for the phone service). Thus there will be costs exclusive to phone services, costs exclusive to broadband services and costs that apply to both. Those who don’t make or receive landline calls should pay a lower fixed cost than those who use both a landline phone and broadband services. This has been pointed out by others.

So there needs to be a charge for the phone/broadband line. Do you know how the charges should be split? Do you need a phone number to be able to access broadband? If so you can choose to access the phone equipment at will even if only to receive incoming calls, so that would be wide open to abuse. If I’m wrong about the phone number I’ll hold up my hands.

The suggestion that line rental should be absorbed into broadband costs – effectively hidden – just seems to make this issue worse. The line will still be paid for. If users cannot add a line rental cost to a broadband package, and add in the telephone call option, there is something wrong with our education system – as long as these separate charges are made clear. And let’s abolish short term offers that expire before your contract will finish.

I don’t know how the fixed charges would break down, Malcolm, but there are many who prefer mobiles and only use their landline for broadband. This has come up many times in other Conversations and my interest is in promoting fairness in not charging customers for a phone service they don’t use or want.

And what about the phone number? Do you need one to get broadband?

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Thanks duncan. Glad that post made it 🙂 So I don’t see how you can separate out landline charges for those who say they only use broadband if a phone can still be connected and used.

It is hard to make everything fair to all people. Unless the phone number can be blocked from use for everything except the broadband service this seems a bit of a problem. It would be abused in a big way I suspect and all that might happen is the broadband rental would rise significantly to compensate.

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I saw that as well, but according to Which? that is only for a new user where you save £10.63 in total because of the silly discount that only lasts for 12 months of an 18 month contract. However, looking tonight the offer is a little different – the silly discount is only for 9 months of a 12 month contract and saves just £6.12. Although the broadband-only says no phone line the price of that is not disclosed but lost in the single overall cost.


Virgin know that, if they give you a telephone service (as a no cost extra) with your broadband, sooner or later you might use it to call mobiles or premium rate numbers.

Then they can bill you for those calls. If you end up making lots of calls, the cost will be significant relative to the broadband subscription.

“The percentage of UK households with a landline has fallen gradually from 95% in 2000 to 88% in 2012, while the percentage of mobile-only homes rose from 10% in 2006 to 15% in the first quarter of 2015.”

I thought after several years we had established a general sort of rule on Conversations that if an author quotes statistics you provide link to them. As we know for the life-time use of electrical drills is 12 minutes that everything quoted as fact on Conversations ain’t necessarily so. : )

But to make life easier for us who love statistics and like to know the source can we have the link please.

dt, quite agree and I was remiss as well. I took mine from Ofcom. One was “facts and figures”, the other was “stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr15/UK_4.pdf “. Quoting selective data is always dangerous (but unavoidable) so giving access to the source does allow it to be seen in context. I can’t guarantee to always practice adherence to this – sometimes you skip around finding bits of information here and there.

I go along with what you are saying Diesel so long as there is some reciprocation. Some people like to post a link but give no summary or description of the content. I like Which? Conversation to be like an amicable conversation and when I am discussing something with friends I don’t produce links but I do usually give the source. I feel that the source should normally be given in the text but not necessarily the link unless it is given at the foot of the comment. I certainly agree that people who love statistics do need to have their lives made easier, so I shall certainly bear your request in mind in future

I am not so hard on contributors regarding sources as the actual original Conversation author who from the outset is going to be the most read and lengthiest poster. To be fair the Editors here should perhaps mention to authors that statistics need to be attributed – as indeed quotes should be.

Ideally posters would provide this aswell but then not everyone has the references to hand or can even recall where they came from! : ) I pretty much read everything and I am grateful to people who take the trouble to post.

As to the subject. Yes I always prefer to use a telephone compared to a mobile or smartphone as the sound quality is superior.

I agree DT. The sound quality on my landline is far superior to the two portables I also use, so I wouldn’t want to be without it. I keep one portable ‘phone upstairs and another downstairs which I will take with me when moving from room to room and also outside when tending the garden in case I have another accident (I once slipped and broke my leg and had to hop back to the house on one leg to ‘phone for help)!

I also keep a pay as you go mobile in my handbag for emergencies only when out and about which, upon reflection makes me wonder how on earth people used to manage without them!

Nearly all the telephone calls I make are by landline, but the total number is quite low. I have a mobile phone but it is usually in a jacket pocket somewhere and it is for the occasional communication when out and about – usually by text. I still send handwritten and typed letters. Very few communications in my life are urgent I am pleased to say.

For two months I lived in my new home without a landline phone or broadband. I used the mobile for calls and tethering, to give me mobile broadband that was considerably faster than the copper broadband in my old home. The reason I did this was because the arrival of fibre broadband was imminent and neighbours had told me how poor the copper broadband service was. Fortunately this fitted in with the two months of unlimited downloads offered by my mobile provider. It worked well and I can understand how people with modest requirements manage fine with mobile broadband and therefore have no need of a landline. I’ve done this for years when on holiday, using a 3 MiFi before I had a smartphone. As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest frustrations is having only a single handset with a mobile. The biggest benefit of having only a mobile was total freedom from nuisance calls. I know that many do suffer nuisance calls on mobiles, but I don’t.

People have to use my landline because only very few close relations have my mobile number I only answer landline calls that are from people on my calls list. One way to not answer unwanted calls is to have a caller list and do not answer any other calls. I add and remove numbers to my list as needed It is quite easy and simple to do Scammers never get through to me this way

Sally says:
5 July 2016

I think it’s only a matter of time before I lose my landline. I’m simply resisting the change, a change that’s inevitable.

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I might use my mobile phone more if I had a signal at home! There is none within 5 miles of our house. It’s also a problem for anyone trying to deliver to us as they expect to be able to phone for directions. Perhaps Which could campaign for better coverage, not only for those of us whose home has no reception, but for anybody whose car breaks down or who is in trouble hiking or cycling out of range. Some other countries seem to have much better coverage away from centres of habitation.

Do you not even have a landline that people can use to phone for directions? I also have noticed that many other countries have much better mobile telephone coverage but that is usually because they had very poor landline provision when the mobile breakthrough occurred and they invested in the newer technology. The UK had virtually complete landline coverage for decades, even with telephone kiosks in the most isolated places, and it has not been considered economically worthwhile to install mobile transmitters in outlying areas. The different companies could never agree among themselves which of them should serve a particular territory and whether they would reciprocate with each other to carry other companies’ signals to avoid expensive duplication. The never-ending commercial upheavals in the mobile telecoms market has not helped.

Yes, we always ask delivery people to phone our landline for directions from their mobile phone when they are about 10 miles away. Unfortunately many of them take no notice and then complain that they can’t phone us. Our postcode covers a wide area and a satnav only brings people to about 1 mile away. On your other point, I think that better mobile coverage in rural areas could save lives and should have some government support.

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Most of my calls are either over Facebook messenger or Skype… I pay 30 a year and then calls to UK landlines over Skype cost no more. I also use mobileVOIP.. add some money and calls to UK landlines are free. Google hangouts lets you call UK mobiles for 3c a minute.. much cheaper and any other option.

Landlines are expensive for calls, as are mobile phones. It would be good if one could have a data connection only.. no calls… Just do not need the landline. Facebook calls are the easiest. Just press a blue phone in the app!

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We live in a rural area and struggle to get a reliable signal. In view of this we see no point in having expensive smartphones which cannot be used regularly. We both have basic mobile phones for using when we are out or in an emergency but rely 100% on a landline service for daily use.

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Ignoring the fact that the mobile signal in my house is almost non-existent (triple-glazed windows with coatings, foil-backed plasterboard), I’ve a big house and garden. I don’t want a mobile in my pocket all the time, so won’t always hear it. There are three handsets on my DECT system, so I’m never far from one. I can always head at least one of them ringing and can get to one easily to answer.

If I were to do away with the landline, I’d need a repeater for my iPhone’s ringer. In fact, I’d need one for each mobile in the house. Hopeless.

Phil says:
9 July 2016

How many times have we had this conversation?

Right now my mobile is lying on the desk telling me there is “No Service”; this is not unusual. Even when I get full signal strength it’s liable to drop the connection without warning. This can happen several times during one call and quite often reception is so bad I can’t make out what the other person is saying anyway.

I suppose the Townies who write for Which? don’t have any of these problems but I’m not that rural, about 60 miles from London. Sorry but landlines have a lot going for them in terms of reliability and security and will be around for a while yet.

It’s very frustrating. I holiday in remote parts of the UK and the phone often shows ‘No Service’ and so does the backup one on a different network. Of course coverage has improved over the years but I find it difficult to believe the coverage statistics for the networks.

Even before I had moved into my new home, there was a dramatic improvement in my mobile signal. Previously it was difficult to make a call without the connection dropping and then I had a decent signal and mobile broadband worked a treat. But if I walk 1.2 miles to the pub in the village, the phone always shows ‘No Service’, even outside the building.

I far prefer using a landline phone but it is expensive to call mobiles. Some people prefer to receive calls on their mobile for various reasons. For example, couples often have quite different leisure interests and calling a mobile number means that you speak to the right person.

Julia says:
9 July 2016

How can we use the Internet without a landline.?

When away from home I use mobile broadband, which is offered by the mobile phone companies, either via a dongle that plugs into your computer or a wireless router (both with a data sim), or by tethering to your mobile phone if your supplier allows this. A good mobile signal is needed, preferably 4G. It would be prohibitively expensive to stream video or download films but for anyone who just uses email, web browsing, Facebook, etc it’s fine. My phone provider allows me 5Gb per month, but it would cost an arm and a leg if I went over the allowance. There were companies that allowed unlimited download but I doubt if this is still possible.

There are other possibilities for internet access without a landline but I have no experience.