/ 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?


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When Mobile calls don’t drop out at random due to goodness only knows what it might be a starter. But for those of us who want to make reliable calls Mobile is a constant nuisance, and the signal seems to be getting WORSE rather than better.

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I like my land-line phone for the simple reason the handset is more comfortable to hold, mobiles and cordless phones ie ones that you can take with you around the house, tend to slip up the side of ny head and I cannot hear properly. To explain all this I am 85!!!

I so agree with your comment Ann. My landline telephone handset not only has the microphone where my mouth is and the speaker next to my ear but I can grip it in the fold of my neck while I go through papers or write notes. Dialling is also so much easier. Mobiles have their good points but only when on the move.

David Seale says:
10 July 2016

I Can’t use mobile phones. I’ve tried & tried. I can switch it on after 3 or 4 attempts. It can take me about ten minutes to make a call on a mobile. I now just keep one in the car for emergencies.

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My husband is exactly the same. We both only use mobiles for emergencies or contacting each other at pre-arranged times but usually it is me ringing him to our landline.

David – There are simple mobile phones for those who struggle with standard models. Doro is the only company I am aware of, but there may be others.

Suzie says:
10 July 2016

Without a landline I would be unable to make calls as I do not have mobile reception.
I am also in the 5% that will not get fibre broadband in the foreseeable future.
Some of the joys of living in the countryside.

Wimbledon says:
10 July 2016

I have a landline for broadband internet. Otherwise no use for it. Mobile package has plenty of minutes and data included. Phone is on you all the time and no need to remember any numbers. Can use a Bluetooth headset or speaker if doing something else too. Annoying how line rental keeps on climbing. And why for fibre broadband do they include telephone line rental??

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I was thinking of getting rid of my Virgin landline home phone the last time our Virgin contract came to an end as we rarely seem to use our landline these days! The only incoming calls we seem to get are from nuisance callers or people trying to sell something. The Virgin landline line rental is now £17.99 per month that’s £215.88 per year for something we don’t really use much.
You can get a Virgin broadband and TV package without the landline but the pricing of the package without the landline was nearly as expensive as the package with the landline included??? Which seemed strange …
They offered me a discount for 12 months if I stayed on a Landline, Broadband and TV package! Surely it would make sense to give people the option of a TV and Broadband package without having to have the landline at a reasonable price… I think they are just happy charging people £17.99 per month for the privilege of your landline phone just sitting there and gathering dust! : (

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Mike says:
11 July 2016

1. I need it for broadband connection. 2. There is no mobile network which provides a consistent, quality connection + often too bad for internet or sending picture messages. I live only 5 minutes from the town centre and on a higher level.

As others have said, mobile coverage in some parts of the country is patchy – notably rural Herefordshire! I don’t carry my mobile around with me in the house, so if someone rings me on it when it’s in another room, I often miss the call. I have a 4-station cordless landline system – only its base station needs to be near a phone line so I can have others dotted about the house – I’ve even modified one sub-station’s charger to work off the solar-charged battery system in my summerhouse, which is completely off-grid and about 20m from the house. So I’m always within earshot and easy reach of one of these wherever I am in the house or garden.

Add to this, most landline phone companies charge silly amounts to ring a mobile – I’m not prepared to have my technophobic elderly relatives overcharged to ring me – and I need the landline for broadband.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but when I was in business, I thought any outfit that only gave a mobile number was a bit ‘Mickey Mouse’ – no proper premises etc.

Finally, the cordless phones live in their charging holsters and are therefore always available. The mobile’s battery is always going flat – worse still for so-called ‘smartphones’ – that’s why I still have my old builder’s Nokia 3330….

Ian says:
11 July 2016

Inclusive calls from landlines to mobile numbers is now ‘a thing’.

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Ian says:
12 July 2016

BT includes calls to mobiles numbers on business plans, but not yet on residential plans. They are far behind Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

Sky’s anytime deal includes calls to UK mobile numbers as standard.
TalkTalk offers an inexpensive add-on for making calls to mobile numbers.
Virgin Media offers an expensive call plan that covers calls to UK mobile numbers as well as calls to a variety of international destinations.
BT is now the odd one out in still charging a per-minute rate for calls to UK mobile numbers.

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JC says:
11 July 2016

The line quality is why I keep the landline going. Sometimes the mobile signal is so bad I have to call back on the landline.

Alan says:
11 July 2016

As several people have said already those of us living in the countryside ( less than 4 miles outside of a town mind you!) have to suffer the problems of totally rubbish broadband speeds and also virtually nil mobile phone signal (unless you want to hang out of the window waving your mobile around). So for millions of us the landline is invaluable and will be for a long time yet as the telecoms industry is only interested in the urban areas.

Agree with Alan. Only one network and that is unreliable. Long live landlines

John says:
12 July 2016

Wouldn’t be without a landline and landline based phone. Also keep one old-style wired phone on the landline, just in case the battery dependent cordless ones fail!

If you live in rural areas the chances are you have very little or NO mobile connection! It’s alright for those of you living in towns and cities but vast areas of the country do not have reliable mobile connection and we rely on our landlines.
don’t have an emergency in the countryside – BT has removed nearly all phoneboxes despite knowing there is no reliable phone communication in an emergency!

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Moving to the sticks but do not see the point of landline. I always have my iPhone in my pocket wherever I am – indoors or out.
Would rather pay for broadband on its own and have an aerial which automatically switches my cellphone to WiFi if 3G signal fails. I understand that this can be done but most phone providers are unhelpful in providing this.

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Phil says:
14 July 2016

” Moving to the sticks but do not see the point of landline. ”

You will…

Robert says:
14 July 2016

The fixed-line phone comes into its own in two situations for us. First of all (and most relevant), it’s significantly cheaper to phone relatives abroad. Secondly, on an unmetered tariff, it reduces arguments when the teenagers want to talk to their friends…

For many people the copper telephone line is either the only way they can get wired internet access or it is the last part of the connection to the home (fibre optic then the copper telephone line).

This has to be paid for; without it no wired internet (unless you have fibre to the home). Presumably ISP’s make more money by bundling a telephone service with the copper wire than simply charging the rent for it. At least one ISP will offer you the option of renting just the copper line without a phone service.

The issue here is that ISP’s try to confuse pricing by offering broadband deals with the copper line/phone rental a separate a item. It is about time OFCOM sorted something out here. I doubt it would mean lower prices overall but it would be more transparent.

Stephen, I agree with the first part.

However, when you take a broadband deal it may be priced for different options – phone packages such as weekends, all day, international, mobiles – and broadband downloads, limited or unlimited, all at different prices. The line rental will be a single price, whichever plan you want. Therefore it does seem sensible to price that separately.

As long as the line rental and the bb package prices are clearly shown I see that as preferable, Bundling them together reduces transparency in my view.

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Some of us still have no mobile phone coverage at home! So it is still very much an essential as I dislike having to travel 2 miles to find reliable reception for a mobile.

clive lewis says:
16 July 2016

My landline is essential for two reasons. First is I cannot get a signal for my mobile, second is that another family member cannot, for health reasons, use a mobile or cordless phone.

Bill says:
18 July 2016

I really resent being forced to pay BT’s rip-off landline charge simply to use the Internet with another company.

It is not fair to expect anyone who does not use a landline to contribute to the cost of the telephone exchange. On the other hand, the copper or fibre cable has to be maintained, as do the servers needed to provide internet access.

I suggest that users of broadband and landline phone pay a smaller charge to cover these fixed costs and a discount is given to users of both services.

Those who use a landline phone service plus broadband would then pay more, those who use phone only or broadband only would then pay less. Total revenue would be maintained.

If you have to have a phone number – and therefore access to the landline phone system for at least incoming call – simply to receive a broadband service you would need to pay the full rental because, as all are not honest, the system would be abused. 🙁

I have suggested that those who use both services should receive a discount.

Elsewhere we have been told that it is possible to block phone lines, which would stop broadband-only customers from making or receiving phone calls. If you have evidence that broadband-only users are able to use the phone service, I would like to see evidence.

Those who don’t use a landline phone are having to pay for the telephone exchange etc. That is wrong.

Previously Duncan has said you need a phone number for a broadband service (4 July). Until that changes the system would be open to abuse.

You say those who use both services should receive a discount? Surely, if broadband can be totally separated from a phone system, those who use both services would pay the most, not receive a discount. If you reduce the cost to users of a single system then those who use both would end up paying more to maintain revenue.

It would be a discount compared with the total for buying broadband and landline phone separately.

If you lived in an area that did not have mains gas, I’m sure you would not want to contribute to the fixed costs of providing gas supplies for everyone that has mains gas.

If there is a gas service (like a phone line) to my house I will pay a charge for it even if I don’t use it. You have the gas disconnected to avoid the charge.

I think we have covered this topic. When BT change their system so you do not need a phone number for broadband then the pricing structure can be altered in ways that are fair to all (I hope). 🙂

There are many people who are happy to use a mobile phone for all calls and they want fair charges for their broadband service. Obviously you can have gas disconnected if you don’t use it, but there is an urgent need for lower charges for those who just use broadband.

According to the poll above:
2069 responded.
98.5% have a landline
93% use it to make and receive calls.
Damned statistics.

Perhaps we are over-represented with old blokes, Malcolm. Students represent a fair proportion of the adult population and most of them don’t use landline phones, exceptions being mature students living in their own home and those living with their parents.

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“Ofcom say “The majority of UK households (80%) used both fixed and mobile telephony services “. Many students are literally mobile, without a permanent residence where they would rent a landline. So unsurprising.

The number of residential landlines increase slightly from 23 million in 2013 to 23.5 million in 2014. And of course it is a household, representing a number of people, that usually rents a landline. So this represents lot more potential users.

It’s equally unsurprising that many people use a landline phone as well as a mobile phone, since they have to pay for the service. I expect that many would be happy to give up their landline phone in return for a lower tariff for broadband.

I’m happy to have both a landline and a mobile phone. What pushed me to get a mobile phone contract was the increasing number of contacts who don’t have landline phones – not just personal users but people who move between two or more offices in their work.

Fixed voice call minutes were 80 billion compared with mobile 137 billion. Many mobile minutes will be used when you are not at home. 40% (last figure I found) of mobile phone users were on payg, so unlikely to make long phone calls; probably like you or I, use them when out and about but choose to use the landline otherwise.

None of this indicates that the landline is on its way out any time soon. Two good systems each with their own uses.

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Duncan – I just gave students as an example of a significant group that has little need for landline phones, with the exceptions that I mentioned. I wonder what percentage of posts on W?C are made by people below normal retirement age (whatever it is this week).

Edited to add: I have recently taken out a new contract for landline phone and broadband but it would be worth others exploring the future consequences of forgoing a landline phone service.

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Students are a special group in that they generally are in no position to have a landline.

Around 1 in 5 people are of state pension age – 12 million. there are 23.5 million landlines, many with shared family access. Without commenting on the fairness or otherwise, older pensioners will, I imagine, use a landline more regularly, or even solely, than younger people (below s.p.a.) and will also have broadband access. So many will, under the suggested scheme, pay more than they do now. Including the vulnerable. Perhaps that is right – I do believe in paying what it costs but then having support in place for appropriate people. But it is a consequence.

I’m always pleased to see people helping others, Duncan. That could include pointing them towards advice that exists on the Which? website, explaining where to go to for help over a consumer issue, or even looking up whether spares are available for their cooker. 🙂

I support Which? using social media to engage with people. I set up my first website in 1995 but I’m a member of a charity that makes increasing use of Facebook for current news and photos, publicising events and encouraging others to join us. I am pleased to report that I have no ‘Facebook Friends’, only real ones.

Big Ged says:
20 July 2016

I agree, Bill. I detest BT and its rip-off charges (and we all know it’s aming for a £20 landline charge). It must be the most inefficient and greedy company in the world, but it’s a monopoly so it can do what it likes. The Telecomms Regulator is useless, or it would have broken up BT long ago.

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Why are we always looking to compare our situation with that in America? The USA is completely unlike the UK is almost every way. It is not necessarily the best alternative. There are plenty of better examples on the continent, mainly in the northern latitudes, where services are provided properly by private and state operators. UK systems are often as good as or better than others but we should be learning from the best and upgrading wherever practicable. I think Which? should look east instead of west more often.

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Thankfully, we won’t be bound to enter the TTIP once we are out of the EU.

We might be pressured into doing so to have proper trade links with the USA. However it is likely to take much longer to resolve when we have exited, won’t it?

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Since our trade balance with the USA is currently negative it is hardly an imperative for the government. Back of the queue will do for now. We can put that issue off until we see who will be in the White House in January.