It’s no secret that landlines are dying out. With the introduction of mobile phones, fewer and fewer people need a dedicated landline to make and receive calls.
Data shows that between 2014 and 2020, the share of households in the UK with a landline that can make and receive calls fell from 81% to 73%. 22% of households don’t have a landline at all.
Part of the appeal for keeping a landline connection in your home was to get broadband and access the internet. But, with recent technology, is a landline necessary for broadband now?
That’s what we’ll explain in this article. We’ll also explore why you require a landline for the internet, what options are available if you don’t have one, and much more.
In short, no. Many broadband providers can provide internet without using phone lines. Instead, your home is connected to the internet by fibre cables which offer faster and more reliable connections.
Virgin Media, BT, Sky, EE, Vodafone, TalkTalk, and many other companies can set your home up with a broadband connection without using phone lines. But, this wasn’t always the case.
When the internet was initially rolled out to UK residents, it was done using Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line broadband – also known as ADSL broadband.
ADSL broadband was delivered to UK homes using the phone line cable network. This meant that to get broadband, you would have to have a landline connection to your home.
Since most homes had a phone line cable connection, the benefit of this system was that almost every home in the UK could receive internet, regardless of whether the phone line was in use or not.
Openreach – a wholly owned subsidiary of BT – runs this network of cables throughout the UK. Many broadband providers such as BT, Sky, EE, Plusnet, TalkTalk, and Vodafone use Openreach’s network to distribute broadband.
As such, if you had a broadband contract with any of the mentioned companies, you would have required a phone line to receive internet. This was still the case for a long time, until the introduction of fibre optic cables.
Fibre optic cables connect directly to your home and are an upgrade on the phone line cables. They are more efficient with data transfer, more reliable in terms of their uptime, and can deliver much faster internet speeds compared to ADSL broadband.
Virgin Media was one of the few companies that utilised this fibre optic technology for many years. This is because they used their own cable network to provide internet instead of Openreach’s network.
Since it is independent, with Virgin Media, you didn’t need a phone line to receive broadband. But, you were still given the option to include landline services as part of your broadband package if you wanted to.
In recent years, Openreach has begun swapping phone line cables for fibre cables. They are now able to give full fibre optic broadband to more and more regions of the UK, which has resulted in more broadband providers providing high-speed internet without the need for a landline.
However, many providers still offer ADSL broadband packages to their customers. Therefore, these homes still require a copper phone line to connect to the internet. This doesn’t mean you have to have a landline phone set up to receive phone calls, only that your home is wired up.
This is more prevalent in rural areas where fibre cables are yet to be installed. Many big cities in the UK are fully covered with fibre cables and can benefit from having broadband without a landline.
It’s a common misconception that broadband without landlines is cheaper. This thought stems from the idea that since you don’t have to pay for line rental, the overall price of broadband services is reduced.
Whilst it’s true that some providers may charge a few pounds less, for the most part, broadband deals without a landline are often the same price.
You have four main options to choose from if you want to receive broadband without a landline. There’s full fibre, cable, satellite, and mobile broadband.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best option for you will depend on your location, speed needs, and budget since the broadband prices of each will differ.
Let’s take a look at these options in more detail.
Full fibre broadband
Full fibre broadband – also known as Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband – is a network that connects directly to your home without any interaction with the old phone line cables. It uses different cables than the ones in use for landlines and is much more efficient in providing internet.
Due to this, full-fibre broadband is significantly faster than traditional broadband and can provide speeds as high as 1GB. It is also much more reliable in terms of connection uptime.
To have FTTP broadband installed, the provider will send an engineer to your home to ensure the cables are connected to your property correctly and everything is working smoothly.
Of course, such a service will be more expensive than ADSL broadband. However, considering the increase in speed you receive, costs are still quite affordable. For those that require high-speed internet, a full-fibre broadband connection will be a perfect choice.
Virgin Media is one of the biggest providers of full-fibre broadband in the UK. Virgin Media broadband utilises coaxial cables and can provide much higher internet speeds than its competitors.
Over the last few years, Openreach has also begun to install fibre cables throughout the country. Therefore, companies such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone can also provide residents with full-fibre broadband.
However, a significant drawback with FTTP broadband is that it’s not yet available to all areas of the UK. Although coverage is increasing every year, at the time of writing this article, it hasn’t entirely spanned all corners of the UK yet. Therefore, if you live in a remote area, you may find that your only option is to get internet through your phone line.
But this will rapidly change over the coming years. The government has invested a large amount of money in connecting most homes with FTTP broadband – the goal is to reach 85% of properties in the UK by 2025.
Alongside full fibre services, many companies also use cable broadband to provide homeowners with internet.
It uses fibre optic cables that are connected to your home to give you a broadband connection, phone connection, and cable TV services.
Cable broadband is not as fast as its full fibre bigger brother, but it will still give you speeds of up to 152Mbps. This makes it an excellent middle-ground option for those who want speeds faster than what they receive with ADSL but can’t quite afford the prices of full-fibre broadband.
Unlike the previous two options that provide internet to your home via a cable connection, satellite broadband uses satellite technology.
This means that regardless of where you are located, as long as you have a clear view of the sky, you will be able to receive fast broadband.
It’s a great solution for those living in rural areas far away from telephone exchanges or green roadside cabinets but still need fast internet speeds.
It should be noted that due to how your home receives broadband, it is much more costly than the aforementioned fixed-line options.
Mobile broadband (3G/4G/5G)
With the introduction of 5G across the UK, this option has become increasingly popular amongst broadband customers.
If you live in a location with access to a strong 5G signal, you could receive speeds of up to 200Mbps. This can rival some of the fastest fixed-line speeds in your area.
Mobile broadband works in the same way as an internet connection with mobile phones. The difference is that instead of having the SIM card in your phone, it is installed in a router or dongle at your residence. This router then emits a WIFI signal that connects you to the internet.
It’s not just limited to 5G, though. You can also connect via 3G and 4G, but these connection speeds will be considerably lower than a 5G network.
Whilst the 5G rollout first started in 2019, it has only begun to pick up steam over the last year or so. Therefore, not all regions in the UK have strong 5G connections yet. But, if you happen to be located in an area that's well covered, mobile broadband could be a viable option for you.
FTTC broadband is a mix of sorts; it blends fibre cables with your landline cables to give you broadband.
Instead of having a fibre optic cable that connects straight to your home, it is connected to the cabinet on your street. From there, the broadband uses the existing copper phone lines attached to your home to give you access to the internet.
Since the copper phone lines are nowhere near as fast and efficient as the fibre optic ones, you won’t be able to reach the high speeds common with FTTP broadband. Still, you will get connections of up to 80Mbps.
It also means you will need a landline connection to have FTTC broadband.
Broadband-only deals only offer broadband without a phone or cable TV package. However, to access this broadband connection, you may still be required to have a landline connected to your home.
Therefore, you will have to pay your landline rental in addition to the broadband cost.
Absolutely. Openreach has a USO (Universal Service Obligation) for phone lines. This means that if your home does not already have a landline connection, you will be able to request one.
Line rental typically costs between £20 and £25 per year, but the exact cost will differ depending on your provider.
If this seems like too much, almost all providers give you the option of paying for a whole year up-front at a discount. This can reduce your per-month cost by as much as £5.