/ Technology

Our poll results: we must keep landline phones

Red landline phone

When posed with the question ‘does anyone still use their landline’ most of our readers emphatically replied , ‘Yes!’ Our poll of 1,000 found that most of you weren’t ready to ditch your landline in favour of a mobile.

A few months ago, our technology researcher Ben Stevens asked a controversial question – why does anyone bother with landlines in the age of mobile phones?

For Ben, landlines are restrictive compared to mobiles. He can browse the web, text and email from his smartphone. But with a landline, he can only twiddle his fingers around the cord.

However, the opinion that landlines would fade out of existence within the next decade didn’t strike a chord with most of you.

Our poll on the matter enjoyed a huge response, with 1,000 (exactly) votes. Over two-thirds of you said that you used your home phone all the time. Now that’s what I call a majority.

This was followed by one in five saying they only found their landlines useful for relatives. And in a sorry last place was our final option, ‘home phones are pointless’. Only 11% of you agreed. Sorry Ben.

In support of discarding landlines

Of course, Ben did have his supporters in the comments. Andy Hessentale said that his home phone hadn’t rung since 2003, a call that brought back memories:

‘I remember the moment it last rang really well, it was a bloke who could barely read the script he had in front of him offering me a free quote on some new windows. Was a welcome distraction from the film I’d been watching at the time.’

Which? Convo commenter Usul agreed, saying that ‘my mobile is the only device I use for making and receiving calls, I know some people who have two mobiles, one for work and one for personal use.’

The majority wants to keep landlines

But the landline lovers united, with legitimate points supporting their continuing existence. Many of you argued that you couldn’t discard your landline as you didn’t have very good mobile reception where you lived. James R Briggs emphasised the point, ‘Ben Stevens clearly does not live in the country where the radio link is often poor or, in my case, often non existent’.

Commenter Phil brought up another important issue, this time around calling emergency services. He said that it’s always best to dial 999 from your landline as ‘your address will automatically appear on the operator’s computer which could save vital time’.

Here’s a question for you – would you trust a business that didn’t list a landline phone number? Commenter Phil Bartlett believed that this would constitute suspect behaviour, as dodgy salespeople often only show a mobile number.

And there appears to be one final problem holding us back from ditching landlines for good – if you want a home broadband connection, you have to pay for line rental. Our telecoms expert Ceri Stanaway agreed, ‘I wonder if line rental providers are missing a trick by failing to cater for people who, like Ben, only want a landline so they can get broadband.’

In a perfect world?

So, the question is, would you ditch your landline in favour of a mobile phone if we lived in a perfect world? A world where we didn’t need line rental for home broadband, where calls to 0845 numbers weren’t more expensive on mobiles, and where there was good network coverage across the country?

Or do you think that, even with these luxuries, the majority would once again vote for ‘hands off my landline!’?


I suspect that this is a slightly generational thing. Though having said that my 90 year old father has a mobile for calling the family from his sheltered living location, the possible downside is that he has unlimited calling to a mobile that I have on the same network…
Apart from that I only ever use the mobile when out and generally to receive calls from family members who have run into a problem. This is quite frequent as at least two have disabilities.
At home, with the exception of the calls from my father I never use a mobile and would be greatly surprised to receive calls on either one of the two that I have. Land line calls are included in my line rental which also provides the highway for my broadband. To use the mobile would be bonkers as the calls are far more expensive than free. The land line also serves all of those who live in the house and can be answered by anyone who is at home.
As for mobile broadband, with several PCs on a home network I do not see mobile broadband as being of any use until I have a serious win on the lottery and probably not even then!
Oh and the only place I ever use the internet is at home!

I’m a Chartered IT professional, teach IT and Computing all day every day and use my beloved iMac to surf the net vast amounts when I am at home.

I have a lovely iPhone which as more free minutes than I can remember each month and more free texts than I can ever possibly imagine using.

My landline and Broadband are provided by PostOffice Home Phone and with that I get so many free call options that I would never expect to actually pay for any calls at all.

It would never cross my mind to actually make a call from my iPhone and if it rings I know for sure that it is a cold call as my landline is ex directory and has been for over 25 years (in fact since before it was actually my land line!)

Therefore I ignore the mobile!

My land line has a handsfree cordless handset so I can be on the ‘phone for 2 or 3 hours at a time (and I am on a daily basis) whilst still getting on with my household jobs and using my computer. I can’t do that on the mobile: it would have a flat battery in little over an hour, the speakerphone facility is dire by comparison with the handsfree landline ‘phone and like all mobiles it interferes terribly with any audio device that I go near.

No, I’m sorry but a mobile is simply an inconvenient hassle to use for anything other than an emergency services call when I am out walking or climbing or to receive an emergency call from my elderly mother whilst I am out in town or walking – and thankfully she has never had to make such a call yet.

There have been a couple of occasions since writing the ‘Who needs a landline’ post when I’ve wished I’d have one. Once when I was struggling with network coverage and the second time when I had to call my bank and jump through all sorts of hoops between lengthy spells of being put on hold.

I still stand by belief that landlines will become increasingly thin on the ground as the years tick by. And that ten years from now, having a landline will be the exception and not the norm.

For the foreseeable future, land lines will always provide a substantially faster data connection in most cases, and for this reason I can’t see the land line disappearing for a long time. Younger generations may be using the land line less for calls, but keep in mind that they are more likely than older generations to expect to stream live TV and pay-per-view films down their broadband line. The land line isn’t going anywhere, it’s use is simply evolving from communication to entertainment.

Sophie Gilbert says:
19 November 2010

Would I ditch my landline in favour of a mobile phone if we lived in a world where we didn’t need line rental for home broadband, where calls to 0845 numbers weren’t more expensive on mobiles, and where there was good network coverage across the country? No, for the same reason as I wouldn’t like to see the end of phone boxes. Mobiles phones fail more easily and more often than landlines, and if you have to dial 999 this isn’t the time to be let down by a flat battery or a loss of signal. Add to that Commenter Phil’s argument that “it is always best to dial 999 from your landline as your address will automatically appear on the operator’s computer, which could save vital time” and the case is clear: keep the landline.

So, the question is, would you ditch your landline in favour of a mobile phone if we lived in a perfect world? A world where we didn’t need line rental for home broadband, where calls to 0845 numbers weren’t more expensive on mobiles, and where there was good network coverage across the country?

I will never ditch it. Mobile phone co’s were given a licence to print money by the government when first set up. They were aimed at businesses who could afford them. The cost was just another overhead. There were no controls on mobile providers whatsoever and they charged what they could get away within their cosy cartels. Eventually they had to be dragged kicking and screaming through the EU courts to force them to stop ripping of customers for calls within EU borders. They still cream off trillions when a mobile is used outside the EU. (which of course I dont – I buy a local sim)
I do have a mobile phone and most of time its switched OFF. Its now 4 years old and until it falls apart it wont be replaced.

Nilesh says:
23 November 2010

I only got mine because i got a better deal with Virgin media bundle. the Broadband and TV are great but i dont use their phone facilities.

Anne of Ealing says:
24 November 2010

I am disinclined to use advertisers who only give a mobile number. A landline number is much more reassuring that they can be found if there are any problems.

Stuart says:
24 November 2010

Three main reasons for landlines:
– Reception
– Cost of calling 0800; 0870; etc numbers from a mobile
– House is on fire and your battery is flat (excludes cordless landlines).

Out here in rural Shropshire, not only is there no mobile signal in my street and I don’t want to join the chilly mortals chatting down the garden in the cold, but I get twice the internet speed on my ethernet connection to that on the wireless one.

Malcolm M says:
28 November 2010

I have a mobile phone, but only because of the demise of telephone boxes. It normally resides in the glove compartment of my car and occasionally gets an outing for a specific reason. I do not wish to hold a conversation with anyone whilst I am walking about, so I have a landline and an answerphone. If someone tries to contact me when I am not at home, they leave a message and I get back to them when it is convenient for me to do so.
I realise that people with a small business who cannot justify having someone available to answer the phone, need to be available at all times, but I am suspicious of any business who does not give a landline and an address. Pay as you go mobile phones are used by people who do not want to be traced and until the pay as you go phones use numbers that can be identified as such, I shall continue to avoid any business that gives a mobile phone number as its only means of contact.

Interesting how many people don’t trust businesses that only have a mobile number. I must admit that I hadn’t thought about that point before but it’s an extremely good one.

I remember a TV programme a couple of years ago called something like ‘how to disappear and never be found’ and a significant point in that was that if you wanted to be untraceable a pay as you go mobile, bought for cash and topped up with cash, was a massive step towards being completely untraceable.

with that in mind I can’t believe how stupid I was not to link that to rogue traders as other contributors have done.

Damn Young says:
18 July 2011

I ditched my landline 4 years ago, and I don’t miss it.

KK says:
7 May 2013

I was a holdout, always liking to keep a landline phone for many of the reasons cited here.

However, after two years with the same phone number — Virgin Media just decided to change our phone number (and give the old one to a business). They did so without consulting or informing us.

Now, what good is any phone if the associated number is changed at will by the carrier.

Needless to say, I will never do business with Virgin again. Their horrible standard of engineering services (failure to show for appointments and lying about their attendance when CCTV proves otherwise) should have had me leaving earlier.

I have had to switch to a more expensive landline tariff that covers weekend and evening calls to mobiles. I’m not going to call any mobile number during the day unless it is urgent. Some people don’t think of others.

I had to ring Thompson & Morgan recently and guess what – they’ve got an 0844 number. Why is this?