/ Technology

Is it cheaper to bundle a landline with TV and internet?

I’m continuing to stick with my landline. Not only because I use it frequently, but because it’s cheaper to have it than not! Is yours saving you money, too?

My landline was pre-installed when I moved into my flat in 2011 and I continue to have it to this day. For me, it’s a useful backup for my mobile, but it still has its everyday uses.

Although I generally chat with my family via Facetime, my parents live in Ireland and prefer to use their landline, so it’s reassuring for me to have one, knowing that I can always reach them if I need to.

A cost-cutting quirk

After I moved in it didn’t take me long to sign up to a TV and internet bundle – first with Sky then, later on, with Virgin Media.

When I enquired as to keeping the landline on I was pleased to discover that it wouldn’t cost extra, as it was provided as part of the bundled package.

Seven years on and I’m even happier to keep it, because it’s £3 cheaper per month than not having it at all! I’ve checked this week and that’s still the case, even though I pay £19 per month line rental.

Are you bundled up?

When I brought this up in the office this week there were others who are doing exactly the same thing.

As some of you know, George (eventually) moved into a flat recently and was also in the market for a TV/internet bundle.

He told me that having originally purchased a TV/internet bundle from Virgin Media, he was actually called by the company in advance of the installation – it told him that if he took the bundled landline option as well, it’d save him as much as £26 per month for 12 months. So, why not!?

While it will go up after that period, it’ll still be cheaper by £1 per month, which adds up.

Given the apparent advantages, I’m happy to keep my landline on. I’ve also seen that in some instances it still helps when establishing your details/history at an address to have a registered number.

Do you still prefer to make your calls via a landline? Could you perhaps be paying more than you need to?

Phil says:
25 August 2018

Cost is a secondary consideration to reliability where I live. The mobile signal is generally poor to non-existant and the internet slow.

Justin says:
26 August 2018

I have the same issue and it worries me that credit card companies are going to start using text services to validate transactions. What about us poor sods that have a rubbish mobile service.

Sara says:
25 August 2018

My package (including landline) with Virgin Media allows me to make calls at no extra cost to family in the USA and friends in New Zealand, including to mobiles. If my brother calls me from his mobile, he is charged over $1 a minute. Although I’ve now got a smartphone, I prefer to use my landline and wouldn’t think of giving it up.

Being someone who is happy to use Freeview for television as it meets all my needs and much more, I find the idea of paying a lot for a broadband + landline + TV bundle unattractive, and I am surprised if it comes in over the long term at a lower price than the present broadband + landline service that I currently have with BT. I stress ‘long term’ because I am not interested in having to go through a review every year and want stability. I have to confess that I don’t have a clue what the monthly bill is because with paperless billing I just move them straight into a folder without looking at them.

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Yes I know, Duncan, but I can’t be bothered, and compared with the standing charges for broadband and line rental the call charges are not significant because most of them are inclusive. I probably receive more calls than I make.

We calculated that we spend more each month on toilet tissue and related bathroom products than we do on telephone charges including broadband and line rental. I don’t really understand why such an essential service as telecoms has been allowed to become such a financial football. It might be because there are so many wrinkles in each bundle and numerous optional add-ons that people don’t review when the charges are changed.

Like John, I am not interested in TV packages and Freeview + iPlayer serve my limited viewing needs.

I did look at the possibility of having broadband + mobile phone from my internet service provider years ago but that was not flexible and did not give the choice of a SIM-only contract.

I have nothing against bundles in principle. I have breakdown cover with my car insurance provider and that is a worthwhile saving, as is buying gas and electricity from the same supplier, at least when I have compared prices.

At their best, bundles can save money and hassle but at their worst they are just a means of upselling.

Hi Wavechange,
Until I moved house 2016, and for about 18 years before that I used to pay for a dual utility supply via Scottish Power.
I would phone them regularly for their ‘best tariff’ on-the-day. When I moved I then did the sums and now separate gas and electric utility suppliers and am paying less per month than previously to Scottish Power online.
The only difference is that Scottish Power had enough of my money to build a very well-designed online website .

Sorry I missed your post, Amarni. I think most of us assume that dual fuel tariffs are the cheapest option but you are not the first to suggest buying gas and electricity from different suppliers.

I used to be with Scottish Power, not through choice but as a result of a local collective switching scheme where SP was chosen as the supplier. SP once doubled my direct debit even though I was well in credit and did not even send an email. At present I’m on a two year fixed contract with Ovo but will look at the options when this comes up for renewal.

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It must be comforting to know there is a limit on direct debit payments.

When I moved to Ovo they put me on a low direct debit and when the weather became colder the account went a little into the red. I was able to make a one off payment to clear the debt and also increase the direct debit online. I review the balance every few months.

I’m surprised how many people let balances build up and take no action.

Freeview, Freesat, i-player do all we need – and they contain quite enough rubbish programmes without adding subscription ones. I’ve plenty of DVDs if I want to be additionally entertained. But I do keep a landline – part of my internet package. I don’t always get a good signal at home. And, of course, many people and organisations only have my landline number from the past.

Most of the shows these days are not that wonderful. Sitcoms that are really funny, for instance, have become an endangered species, while we tend to have most of the things we watch on a media server.

Although some suppliers will let you have a “broadband only” subscription, they can’t make any money off you for call charges that way, so most are happy to bundle in a landline service as well.

Mine is not like that, but similar. I have a proper fibre broadband service (FTTP), so no copper phone line is needed to provide broadband. My broadband/phone bundle includes calls, though I have to be careful when I call mobile numbers to avoid extra charges. I could select a cheaper tariff where all calls are charged. That does not suit me at present but it might be a good choice for those who never use a landline.

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Based on what one of our contributors (the other Ian, I believe) said some time back it is likely that in future it won’t matter whether we are calling landlines or mobiles as regards cost, and what you say suggests that progress is being made. I don’t want to incur extra charges so I do not call mobiles from my landline except when there is no extra charge. Likewise I avoid using more than my call allowance on my mobile because exceeding it would be very expensive.

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I am at present without any BT email service although broadband and landline are still connected, so your post was very timely Duncan. I have now deleted my email acount with BT as they don’t recognise any answers to security questions sent, so I suspect a virus or hacking. BT are forwarding more security questions for me to answer via snail mail within the next few days, so I hope to get it sorted soon. I would be more worried if I banked online.

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Yes I do Duncan, although we’ve never met! I would be quite surprised if BT admitted to me I had been hacked, which begs the question are there any other really safer alternatives?

For what it’s worth, I think BT charges more than the going rate, possibly a case of paying for the name.

As regards email, I’ve been a happy Gmail user for many years now.

Thanks for that recommendation Derek. I will certainly switch if BT fail to solve the problem soon. I understand the importance of all their security measures, but with so many Convo reports of phone scams from people purporting to be from BT, I feel I need to check their credentials also!

At the end of Claire’s introduction is a link to information and reviews about cordless phones.

Earlier this year I bought a bundle of four cordless phones, intending to use three and keep one as spare. My previous set had lasted well but one by one the handsets developed the same fault, whereby they sometimes just cut out and reset when in use, even though the batteries were charged.

It worked out ten pounds cheaper to buy two sets of two and it was easy to programme them all to use the same base station/answering machine. My top priority was to buy cordless phones that store phone numbers on the base station so that numbers don’t have to be entered more than once, as they did with my previous cordless phones.

So far so good, but I’m fed-up with the hassle of entering new numbers when that is so easy on any modern mobile phone and even on my old iPhone. I do wish that manufacturers of cordless phones would have a look at mobiles and think about making products that are easy to use.

Many inexpensive mobile phone packages already give unlimited minutes on regular voice calls, so many folk have little or no need for landline calls (or handsets)

[Sent from my imitation iPhone.]

I had a mobile phone package with unlimited calls for four years but it worked out more cost effective to downgrade that to 500 minutes and move to a more expensive home broadband/phone tariff.

I expect it’s just as easy to save names and numbers on an imitation iPhone. 🙂

I replaced my old Panasonic cordless landline phones with the BT 4600, mainly for its ease of use and it’s sound quality – you don’t need to use a hearing aid but it is possible with this phone. I bought the twin pack, only needing to programme the phonebook once in the base handset. It has a large window displaying with easy to read numbers if you mislay your specs, (as I frequently do) and an immediate blocking button facility to press for those unsuspecting nuisance calls.

The downside is, the big numbers programmed in the phonebook agitate a bit and are difficult to focus on if you need to look up a number without actually phoning someone and the caller display is a must if you buy this phone, which may cost you more unless you can plead longstanding patronage (as I did) and get it gratis.

The instruction book is simplified for tech dummies like me, but after a few inevitable teething problems I would postulate it’s a great buy for the elderly with failing sight and/or hearing problems.

Thanks Beryl. I asked about cordless phones in The Lobby months ago and learned that there was plenty of choice of models that do store the numbers at the base station rather than on individual handsets – the real bugbear of my old Panasonic set. That was the only real problem and the phones had had a lot of use so I have bought another set of Panasonics. The instruction booklet is clear but in teenyprint.

I don’t know why the Which? reviews highlight that my phone stores numbers in the base station but does not do the same with the review of the BT 4600, when both do the same.

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That’s exactly what I did, Duncan. Even if the printed instructions were in larger print I am happy to use the pdf and that is searchable. Many do prefer printed instructions, though you are right to point out that viewing on a computer is a good way of dealing with tinyprint. Mine’s a KX-TGJ322E and I know the call blocking is not the best but I don’t need it nowadays.

My Panasonics have a limited (not excessively so) contacts storage on the base station, accessed by all handsets and additional storage on each handset, only accessible on that handset.

I think that’s what my new one will do, though I’ve only stored numbers on the base station so far. My old Panasonics would only store numbers on the individual handsets. Maybe ideal for a family but a great nuisance for me.

If I bought a new mobile tomorrow all my numbers I had on the old one would be accessible on the new one in the same way that email addresses and calendars are shared. Maybe one day cordless phones will be able to do the same.

Wavechange, extract from the BT4600 guide book:

You can store up to 200 entries in your list of phonebook contacts. Contact entries will automatically be copied to any other handsets you have registered on the base. Any change made on one handset will be updated on all other handsets. The handset will come with a special number pre-stored. This will include Your BT Product Helpline, all handsets (if you have more than two handsets registered) and a list of the handsets registered to the base.

Hope this clarifies.

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Thanks Beryl. I’m not sure if my previous Panasonic phone allowed this but I bought a set of four and they worked fine until they started to fail after years of use – three with exactly the same fault. I bought two twin phones and it was easy to register them all to use the same base station. One of the handsets will probably go into storage with the spare base station.

When I have nothing better to do I put another couple of names and numbers into one of the handsets and it’s great to see them available on the other handsets. It’s tedious.

I find myself agreeing with you exactly. Except that I also have Freesat also free.
Like you I put things in to folders. BUT I would love to learn how to access the folders! Born 1926 might explain it!

On my e-mail system [Outlook], Denys, the folders are listed on the left-hand side of the screen and just clicking on one of them opens it. If you have a lot of folders and they don’t all appear then it is possible to scroll down the list until you see the one you want. Once you have got the knack it is easy to manage your folders. Copying messages from one folder to another also keeps the brain ticking over nicely.

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I use e-mail a lot for storing documents I have created. I post them to myself as attachments so they remain accessible in the event that Word collapses or the PC dies. Although I have had two previous desktop computers die on me I never lost any e-mails because they are in cloud storage and not in the PC’s memory. I therefore have almost all the e-mails I have ever sent but not deliberately discarded and a high proportion of every e-mail I have ever received [except deletions and junk]. I do clean out the folders from time to time but there is no necessity to do so. My policy to defeat hacking is to grow a very thick and thorny hedge whose density makes it virtually impenetrable.

I think you would be better to make backups of your files and preferably the whole computer, perhaps on external hard-drives, preferably stored away from the computer and somewhere safe. I know I can wipe a computer and reinstate everything from a backup – it even remembers which files were used recently – but I lost three years of Outlook emails once despite having three up to date backups on hard drives. I guess the emails were wiped from the server and I was not clever enough to retrieve them from the backups.

You’re probably right, Wavechange, but I have never backed anything up. I just keep hard copies of anything important. I expect half my computer activity is in the archives of Which? Conversation, so not important at all.

🙂 🙂 I’m not sure whether 256 bit encryption or losing posts in The Lobby is a better way of concealing information. Maybe our computer experts can advise.

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At least in theory, The Lobby is searchable and 256 bit encryption is hard to crack.

I tend to backup all my user files to portable hard drives, with at least two copies on separate drives. I no longer encrypt that data or my user areas on PCs, because I’m not safeguarding any state secrets and unencrypted data is easier to work with.

Keeping two copies help protect the data against user errors and other accidents.

For windows pc’s, DirSync Pro is a handy tool for copying files and folders to backup media. On linux (or mac), the rsync command does a nice job, so I use that.

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I use Time Machine to backup Macs onto external hard drives. All that’s needed is to plug in the drive and it gets on with the job. The first backup takes a long time but subsequent ones are much faster. I know that I can wipe a computer and restore files and software from a recent backup. I would be interested to know what the equivalent is on PCs.

I have a large number of drives, some of which have a huge amount of video and sound files. I maintain air-gapped external drives for backup (you really don’t want to lose 20TB of video…) and other methods, as well.

Windows PC’s offer plenty of equivalents to Time Machine.

So arguably Windows users have greater customer choice.

I think there is even a standard Windows tool but I’ve not used it.

The neatest option that I’ve used was an HP simple save drive.

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I recall using supplied software (Retrospect?) to back up onto Zip Drives back in the old days. I was really wondering how the standard Windows backup software (not sure what this feature is called) compares with Time Machine. Nowadays there are so many options including networked drives and cloud storage, but simple solutions would be more likely to appeal to those who use computers but don’t keep backups.

duncan, you can post the main part of a URL can’t you? Until the moderators sort out your difficulty.

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Assuming you have not joined the Linux users, how do you backup your computer Malcolm? Or anyone else who is a Windows user.

Duncan – you could use the same approach as Patrick T does. Here is one of his posts from this morning: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/time-tech-digital-detox/#comment-1543212

Perhaps we should continue this discussion in The Lobby.

I’ve an external hard drive, when I remember.

Do you use software to backup the computer or just files you have created or downloaded?

Copying “conversation.which.co.uk/technology/time-tech-digital-detox/#comment-1543212” into Google took me straight to the comment. This “1stchoice.co.uk/car-parts/toyota/yaris/battery” took me straight to the page. Perhaps it doesn’t work like this? I am a dumb PC use.

I just copy files across (when I remember). I must remember more often.

To clarify the truth about the Windows 10 app store, I have now confirmed that its use does not require registration with Microsoft. Registration is only needed when purchasing non-free apps. W10 also comes with a built in file backup utility.

In contrast, my experience is that both the Google and Apple app stores DO require users to register, even for free apps. That said, Google registration is simple to do and only involves setting up a new email and password.

Linux app stores usually don’t require any registration.

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Duncan – W10 has a built-in option for making “operating system recovery discs”. I suspect it is what Currys PC World use for their £45 “added value” up-sell option.

I don’t really know much about other built-in W10 apps because I now use a free (as in free beer) app called Macrium Reflect for disc imaging and cloning on W10 and earlier Windows versions. In the past I’ve also used either Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost for those duties.

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Duncan, I fear the ugly truth here is that you are just seeking to find fault with Microsoft in general and with Windows 10 in particular.

A counter argument would be that Microsoft have made it easier than ever to install or re-install Windows 10.

Here step 1 is to download a Windows install ISO from Microsoft – this is essentially the same as downloading a Linux install ISO and is just as easy.

Then step 2 is to make a boot disc, e.g. by burning the ISO to DVD-ROM or to USB stick. (I’ve only recently used the former option, but I think various utilities are available for making bootable Windows USB sticks).

Step 3 is then to boot from the DVD or USB stick and then install or re-install Linux.

So those steps are effectively just the same and just as easy as doing a Linux installation.

Post-install, in the Red Corner, Linux does not require any faffing about with licence keys and is much quicker to upgrade with all the latest software updates. But, in the Blue Corner, the Windows install is unlikely to be hampered by a lack of device drivers for things like wifi cards, web cams and popular printers.

An early surprise from my Windows 10 tablet is that it is not “locked down” like an Android would be. So it will easily boot into either MX Linux or Android x86. But then, the wifi doesn’t work (so that will need to be fixed…).

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Duncan, I fear this thread has now strayed way off topic, so I suggest we agree to disagree and end here.

Duncan – you keep saying you can’t post links, but Alex has informed you that you can. For the time being, until you have established your credentials by having sufficient links authorised, your comments containing links will go into moderation and appear as soon as they have been vetted. Unless you start to do this you will never be able to post URL’s, but as soon as you have qualified by submitting enough safe links you will be able to post links without any delays. I don’t know what the threshold is but Alex can no doubt advise. If your comments are urgent, post two versions – one with a link in it and one without. Hope this helps.

I don’t understand what you and Derek are talking about but it sounds like you are having a good time.

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Duncan, please don’t take it personally. You are not being criticised or singled out for different treatment. As I understand it, all contributors have to go through this process before they are authorised to post links without moderation. The Which? IT system does not know [I hope] what controls you have on your private set-up.

John is correct, and Alex has indeed explained the URL situation in full. As Derek said, let’s get back on topic on this one 🙂 Thanks!

I recently cancelled my Sky subscription and am going over to BT for internet and landline. Still gonna keep the Sky + (non HD) box to receive satellite channels

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Good point but I never use the provided email address, I just use my msn.com account (yes its that old) through thunderbird

Which channels are only going to HD? Its strange how the menu on my Thompson Sky+ box doesn’t have the categories in the new order like Sky + HD does

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If satellite TV systems are moving over exclusively to HD channels [where both SD and HD are broadcast], how does this cope with the regional opt-outs that are transmitted only on the SD channels? The regional news programmes on BBC 1 are a case in point.

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Thanks Duncan. I am satisfied with Freeview which meets our requirements and provides the regional news for the East only. On our television I cannot detect any appreciable difference between SD and HD in terms of picture quality. People we know using Freesat can also get hundreds of additional stations, including all the regional news and other regional opt-outs in SD, which is handy if you want to see what’s going on elsewhere I suppose, and I presume that Freesat is under an obligation to maintain the SD broadcast until such programming is switched to HD.

If you don’t already get enough naff programmes in your area, Duncan, try the local news on BBC Look East [the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex portion that follows the national Six O’Clock News]. It’s all very friendly chummy stuff but looks like something out of the 1970’s and is full of fluffs and goofs. One of the local reporters always signs off his piece with the disorientating by-line: “This is Robbie West Look East”.

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You should find an equivalent one at the same time called Look East on BBC East. If you hold it up to your ear you can hear the sea.

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guess its just like with the digital switchover, lets make people spend more money out and lets increase electronic waste, most of which will go to landfill

Inspired by this Conversation I decided to check if might be worth extending my broadband/phone contract to include mobile phone. Previously I rejected this because I could not have SIM-only and would land up paying for a handset I have no need of. Looking at prices, it would be cheaper to add SIM-only mobile to my existing contract but that would mean switching to a service that does not have a strong signal, unlike my present mobile network. This is an example of one of the problems of bundles – they lack flexibility and may not offer exactly what you want.

That’s true. I think I was lucky in that I wanted full fibre broadband + TV with all the sport, so Virgin was the main option for me. The phone line was obviously unexpected, but it would have been crazy to turn down such a reduced rate for 12 months. I now have a landline cable with nothing plugged into it!

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I live just below the peak of a hill and I can only get reception with Vodafone and even that is a little patchy. But I only use my landline phone for incoming calls my outgoing go through my mobile or Skype which I pay £2.40 a month for.

Your brother might consider using an overide provider he could use a Skype to go number for example and pay around three dollars a month or call your Skype for free with a local US access number.

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Maggie K says:
23 September 2019

Ha ha! Would I rather save a couple of quid a month or put up with a company (Virgin) that doesn’t give a toss about my stress over nuisance callers -talking about ‘Microsoft’ in this instance. I called Virgin. Also the tps, who tell me that Virgin does NOTHING about safeguarding the public over this problem. They just give out tps and (wrongly) tell customers to call them. I hear from tps that there are a million customers who have been given this info. A Million!!. Why doesn’t VIRGIN sort it out so that we can block these b*******s????