/ Technology

Why pay for line rental when you only use broadband?

Phone line cut

Why should we have to pay for a service we’re not using? It seems a little unfair to say the least, and for many, a landline phone falls into this category. If you only use broadband, why must you pay for line rental?

The landline is dead. Even if you don’t quite believe that, you have to admit it’s definitely on the wane. Not only are 15% of households mobile-only, many of the others probably only have a landline for their broadband connection. And that’s despite them hardly ever picking up the phone (maybe to the odd nuisance call!)

In my house of five we have a landline that comes with our broadband bundle, but I honestly can’t remember the last time anyone actually used it to make a call. On the rare occasion it rings, no-one bothers to pick it up as we know it’ll likely be a marketing attack. So why do we have to pay for it?

What if you have fibre optic broadband?

Up until now broadband providers could use the excuse that you need the phone line for the broadband to run down. But there’s a gaping hole in this argument if you have fibre broadband, rather than you’re old-school ADSL copper line.

Which? Convo’s very own Patrick Steen was recently offered an upgrade to fibre optic broadband by BT, still the largest broadband provider in the UK. He started to ask some probing questions. Did a new line need to be installed for fibre optic broadband? BT’s call handler answered ‘yes’. When he asked whether this meant his phone calls would go through this new line, they needed to do some checking. Eventually (apparently it’s not a common question) they said ‘no – all phone calls would go through the existing copper line’.

Patrick then explained that he wouldn’t be making any calls and would only be using the broadband. That meant he would be paying line rental for a copper line he wouldn’t be using in order to use broadband on his fibre optic line. When he asked why he should have to pay line rental, BT’s call handler replied with ‘that’s just how it works – we have to charge line rental’.

I don’t want to pick on BT. This argument would apply to any broadband provider in the same situation. You have to pay for line rental if you want broadband, whether it’s a copper line or a fibre optic one.

The way we use our landlines and make our calls has changed beyond recognition in the past decade – so perhaps the way line rental is charged for broadband should change too? And, in some cases, maybe the charge should be dropped altogether.

Mark Shuttleworth says:
18 April 2013

Of course, what I’m waiting for is for fibre to go cheap when its used by more people… like 12 GBP per month for 80Mb maybe.

Of course, ADSL would be dirt cheap (like £3 per month) if not for the line rental…
In the UK, fibre is actually cheaper than ADSL, just make sure ur not paying line rental (Virgin is the only one I know of that isn’t totally lame… if someone cheaper appears, maybe I will switch later)

I see so many people not knowing these things… so I posted this info here. Hope it will help some people.

Mark Shuttleworth says:
18 April 2013

one more thing,

you can also use sipgate (or any SIP provider) on your smartphone, if you have wifi connection.

Search 3cx (its available for android/apple, but not windows phone yet).
Use 3cx on your smartphone to make outgoing calls, and only make outgoing calls from your mobile number when you dont have a wifi connection and you REALLY need to make a call…
but people can still call your mobile number (it costs them not you).

This method isnt well known in the UK… but its popular in the rest of EU and also USA.
Sometimes I have heard it also called “open end calling”.

Google the hell out of it.

I’m trying to spread awareness about this… this is good for people, and it is a stake in the heart of crooked phone companies like BT/talktalk with their overpriced prices..

KK says:
7 May 2013

Why pay for a line rental? Well, setting aside the way service providers tie you into package rates, in theory the quality and reliability should be better. However, with Virgin Media, I found neither to be true. Indeed, Virgin Media seem to think that actually having a phone number associated with your landline is not important.

After two years with Virgin Media, I found out that the latest problems we have had with their landline service is because they changed our phone number without either consulting or informing us! Furthermore, they refuse to change it back.

How did I find out? An increasing number of people were emailing me or calling my mobile saying that our home number was out of service. And, then, when I was in the hospital, I found I couldn’t complete a call home.

So why have they done this? They wanted to give the number to a business.

terry says:
6 June 2015

How has your number been giving to a business if it’s out of service?


KK was saying that their home number had been given to someone else. That why KK’s number was out of service.


I am finding it hard to credit the stance of VirginMedia. I assume you have complained to the regulator?

KK says:
7 May 2013

Ofcom makes very clear that Virgin must port my number to a new provider if I switch. The logical inference is that Virgin simply cannot take it away from me at will. I think Virgin relies upon breaking down the customers’ will to fight for their rights.

The amazing thing is that there seems to be no direct way to complain to Ofcom!

Below is taken from the Ofcom website (http://ask.ofcom.org.uk/help/telephone/switching_provider — retrieved 7 May 2013)

At Ofcom we fully understand that your phone number is important to you.

If you choose to change providers, you want to keep that number and avoid any hassle for friends and family.

If you’re a business, your customers will have your number in their phones and systems, and any change can also be very costly.

So if you’re staying at the same address and your number is active, your current provider must allow it to be transferred to a new phone company.

martin says:
25 February 2014

The vast majority of (non business) telephone calls are made from mobiles. Of course this dose not mean the landline is dead as a significant number of calls are still made this way. Telephone providers have had to provide cheap call plans to remain competitive with mobile providers.

However ” Service Providers” know the majority of you dont want or really need a landline but they know you want Broadband. Soooooo you sell broadband and still charge line rental (ASDL or fibre) thus protecting existing revenue stream with the bonus of charging you extra for the broadband which uses the same line as your phone (ASDL) Hope that made sense…but basically your being screwed!