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Millions waste £200 a year on unused landlines

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

More than eight million households own a landline that they don’t use, paying more than £200 for the service.

Landline use continues to fall but many people need to pay line rental costs to access the internet, paying up to £20 a month for the privilege.

Around a third (30%) of UK households have an unused landline, equating to 8.3 million households, according to research by price comparison site comparethemarket.com.

It found this figure is up from 6.5 million in 2018 and means households are paying up to £240 for a service they don’t use.

For 72%, they said they only have a landline because their broadband package requires it.

Instead, a majority (67%) said they only use their mobile phone. As such, a fifth (5.6 million) of UK households no longer own a home phone, up from 14% in 2018.

A fifth said they were ‘fed-up’ with the number of cold calls and scammers on their home phone.

The site revealed that over a quarter (28%) of households said they had looked into changing to a broadband provider without a landline charge, but just 6% made the switch.

Comparethemarket.com said this is likely because very few providers offer such a service, but the roll out of 5G and mobile broadband is predicted to accelerate this trend.

However, landline use increased in lockdown with 18% reporting they had used the handset more during the restrictions.

They have also proved a lifeline for older people as one in 10 of those aged 55 and above said they’re unable to navigate Zoom and Teams, preferring to use their landline to make contact with others.

‘Twentieth-century hangover in a digital age’

Holly Niblett, head of digital at comparethemarket.com, said:  “Landline usage continues to decline, but many people are still required to pay line rental costs in order to get online – and in recent years these costs have outpaced the rate of inflation. At around £200 a year, line rental charges are a twentieth-century hangover in an increasingly digital age. Whilst the industry recognises the nationwide shift away from landlines, their decreasing level of use is not being reflected by a reduction in line rental costs.

“Ofcom analysis shows that buying broadband and a landline as a package bundle can be cheaper than purchasing these services with different providers. Landlines should remain an option for customers who need one, especially older generations. But for much of the population it appears inevitable that the rise of digital platforms – such as Teams, Snapchat and Zoom – and the ongoing 5G roll out will further reduce the number of people who require and use a landline. As such, it is important to regularly review your current phone and broadband costs to ensure that you are not being charged for something unnecessarily. If in doubt – call your provider to check.”