/ Home & Energy, Technology

Your landline is still a lifeline

We had a big response when we asked if you still use your landline. It turns out that many of you would be lost without yours – even some who’d rather use a mobile.

John Ward is among those who uses a landline not his mobile when he needs to make calls and is happy to otherwise rely on other, slower ways to communicate:

‘Nearly all the calls I make are by landline, but the total number is quite low. I have a mobile phone but it’s usually in a jacket pocket somewhere and it’s 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.’

Can’t get a signal

But lots of people do like to be able to make contact in a hurry, which is why poor coverage can be such a disadvantage for mobile phone users.

Alan explained it’s not just a problem in very rural areas:

‘Those of us living in the countryside (less than four miles outside of a town) have to suffer the problems of totally rubbish broadband speeds and also virtually nil mobile phone (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 urban areas.’

Power cuts make a landline essential for Rosalind Nelson:

‘I live in a rural area with overhead phone and electricity lines. We get constant power cuts because of lack of investment by the power company so when it goes off our cordless phone doesn’t work so we have a corded one, too. We both have mobiles but the coverage in our area is iffy to say the least, so we’d never get rid of our landline. If we had no landline and couldn’t get a signal with our mobile, we’d be left with nowhere to go as we also have no neighbours and are miles from the village.’

Mobiles aren’t always user-friendly

Mobiles can be handy, but Ann Brown doesn’t find them as easy to use as a trusty landline phone:

‘I find the corded landline more comfortable to hold; mobiles and cordless phones tend to slip up the side of my head and I can’t hear properly. To explain, I am 85!’

David Seale has tried to get used to mobiles a number of times:

‘I’ve tried and tried. I can switch it on after three or four 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.’

Quality is key

Some of you simply find it’s nicer making a call on the landline, including JC:

‘Sometimes the mobile signal is so bad, I have to call back on the landline.’

Richjenn14 finds mobile phone calls too unreliable:

‘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.’

How often do you use your landline?

It’s clear that many of you still use a landline – as is shown by the results of our poll. Of the 2,350 people who voted, 40% said they used their landline at least once a day, while 33% used it a few times a week. Just 6% of people rarely use their landline and only 2% don’t even have one.

Not everyone needs a landline

A few of you did feel you could happily get by without a landline, such as Wimbledon:

‘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. Annoying how line rental keeps on climbing.’

Peter Fisher explained he doesn’t need to use a mobile:

‘Most of my calls are over Facebook messenger or Skype… I pay £30 a year and calls to UK landlines over Skype cost no more. I also use mobile Voip, add some money and calls to UK landlines are free. Landlines are expensive for calls, as are mobile phones. It would be good if one could have a data connection only, no calls. Facebook calls are the easiest. Just press a blue phone in the app!’

Are you living landline-free, or is your local mobile signal too shaky to depend on?

Paul Conway says:
6 August 2016

I have to have a land line because it is part of my broadband deal with Virgin Media.

I find the cost of land line calls via Virgin Media utterly shocking. They have raised them to match the cost of pay-as-you-go mobile calls. Except that, at the same time, those got cheaper. On Three’s 1-2-3 tariff I can make mobile calls for 3 p/min whereas on Virgin Media (except at weekends) it is around 12 p/min.

So during the week I use a low-cost call service called Call18866 (see their web site). They require an 11-digit prefix, which I programmed into one of the buttons on my desk phone. I then get calls for 1p/min.

Meanwhile if I am sitting with my tablet and want to make a call I can use an app called MobileVoip that lets me make calls for 2 p/min. Saves getting out of my comfy chair.

If I could avoid paying for my land line, I would be tempted, however it has the benefit of reliability, which is essential for emergency calls. Yesterday I was expecting an important call on my mobile but discovered I had forgotten to charge it, ie I was caught out. Easily done. Sometimes I have accidentally left it in the car. A previous mobile malfunctioned and lost all my contacts.

I have done the research and if I include Call18866 and MobileVoip and Skype I have quite a range of calling methods before even using either a land line or mobile phone. This variety is very useful.

Incidentally my expenditure on Three’s 1-2-3 tariff is about £2-3 per month, because I am not part of the young generation that is inseparable from mobiles and Facebook. and I buy my phones outright rather than on contract, so I get what I want.

Stanley Parker says:
29 October 2016

I have been with Vodafone for many years now but I cannot get a signal from my home so I only use it for emergencies when I take my car out. It is never left switched on!


Ofcom has today announced a review of landline rental prices in view of concerns that people may not be getting value for money. It has said that landline prices have risen by up to 41% in real terms since 2010, while wholesale prices have fallen by a quarter. Ofcom is concerned that the rise in rental prices particularly affects those dependent on landlines, such as the elderly and vulnerable customers, who rely on their landline and are less likely to change provider.


At the end of 2014 there were 25.5 million home landlines. This rose slightly at the end of 2015 to 25.6 million. These have to be paid for – the exchanges, lines and all the support necessary – by someone. Hiding landline charges in bundles seems totally contrary to the need for transparency, just like hiding all the costs in energy bills. The costs are still there. I like to know what my money is paying for, just like council tax.

There seems not a lot of difference in landline charges if they are disclosed, so shopping around may not produce great benefits? Where there are vulnerable and essential users – for medical, housebound, for example – help should be given to fund what to them is an essential lifeline.


There is some interesting commentary on this review on the Ofcom website including a graph that tracks the prices charged by the main landline operators and the wholesale cost of landline provision. Not only are the rentals charged by the Big Five [BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk, Sky and the Post Office] converging at just under £19 per month, but the gap between the rental and the £10 per month cost of provision is continuing to widen as costs fall but prices climb.

The companies are clearly not attempting to compete on price any more and are imposing unjustified hardship on a significant customer segment in the interests of higher profits.

Anne HD says:
1 June 2018

The main reason I keep the landline is that in a crisis mobiles don’t work. For example, when New Orleans was flooded you could only call people on a landline. Similarly, when we had the bombed bus in London you could not use landlines. I suppose the system is taken over by the emergency services.


Wise woman Anne , exactly as the government has done in case of war /uprising /rebellion /national emergency where networks of communication cables are used to those “secret bunkers ” . We of course will be cut off from the web/mobile etc etc. now where,s my amateur radio communications receiver /transmitter ?