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How to get broadband without a landline

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Fewer people use their landline than ever nowadays, and that means you certainly don't need to pay for one to get broadband. But since many broadband connections still rely on the phone lines, how does it work when you want to get broadband?

man using his phone at his desk

No, you don’t necessarily need a landline to get home broadband, but this depends on where you live.

Many broadband providers still use Openreach’s network of copper phone lines to connect to your home. But there are other options to get home broadband with no phone line and the options are growing rapidly.

Indeed, traditional landlines could very soon be a thing of the past. Openreach plans to turn off its existing network of analogue phone lines by 31 December 2025 and switch to digital phone lines instead. That means that calls to your home phone will come through your internet connection instead - similar to calling someone on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Even if your broadband connection does come through your landline, it doesn’t mean you have to pay for a home phone service. If you don’t use your home phone, you can get a broadband-only deal without paying for calls. The line rental will then be absorbed into the cost of your broadband.

Line rental is a charge that broadband providers pass on to you, but it’s usually no longer billed as a separate charge. It covers the cost of using and maintaining the Openreach copper and fibre network of wires and cables that deliver your broadband connection.

Previously line rental charges were often lumped on to your bill separately, potentially souring what otherwise looked to be a competitively priced broadband offer. However, rules introduced by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and Ofcom in 2016 changed this. Now, the cost of line rental must be included in the total price you see advertised for your broadband package. That means you can more easily compare broadband deals.

Can I avoid paying line rental?

To avoid paying line rental charges altogether, you have a few options. One is to get your broadband through Virgin Media. It uses its own cable network to provide broadband so it doesn’t pay line rental fees to Openreach. 

However, Virgin Media broadband isn’t as widely available. Plus, there’s no guarantee its offers will be cheaper than other broadband packages that do include line rental. 

You can also avoid paying line rental charges by switching to a full fibre connection if one is available to your home. However, the cost of switching Openreach’s network over to full fibre and subsequent maintenance is likely to be passed on through the price you pay for internet. It just might not be itemised on the bill. 

Another option is to look at satellite or mobile broadband. But they’re not necessarily the cheapest options and may not be the best choice for you. 

If you want to get broadband-only deals without a landline, there are various options to consider:

Full fibre broadband - also called fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) - uses a network of fibre-optic cables that deliver broadband right to your door, without the need for copper phone lines. Because fibre optic cables can transfer data much faster than copper wires, removing that slowdown from the cabinet to your router means faster download speeds.

Along with cable broadband, full fibre broadband offers some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK. It’s technically gigabit-capable, meaning it can reach download speeds of at least 1000 megabits per second (Mbps). Although, as of December 2023, the average download speed for full fibre was 149.2Mbps. 

Find out more about superfast fibre broadband and compare quotes.

Is full fibre right for me?

It depends how you use the internet. As we spend more time socialising, working, and playing online, you may find that you need faster and more reliable internet speeds at home. A full fibre connection can also future-proof your home internet. Its speeds can be upgraded further down the line without any need for another installation.

Full fibre is one technology that the UK government hopes will help them to deliver on their target of rolling out gigabit-capable broadband to 99% of UK premises by 2030.

As of May 2023, full fibre broadband was available in 52% of the UK. And that percentage looks set to increase. Openreach plans to bring ultrafast full fibre broadband to 25 million homes and businesses in the UK by December 2026.

However, with faster download speeds there’s often a higher price tag. So whether or not full fibre is right for you depends on your online needs and budget. You also need to check if it’s available in your postcode.

To find out whether you could upgrade to full fibre broadband, use the Openreach full fibre checker. Virgin Media offer a similar tool for their own fibre broadband services: the postcode checker.

With cable broadband, the internet connection is delivered through a network of coaxial cables, rather than copper telephone wires or fibre-optic cables. The UK’s cable network is owned and operated by Virgin Media and they dominate the cable broadband market.

Is cable broadband right for me?

Although cable broadband is not available in all areas of the UK, Virgin Media, like Openreach, are working to bring superfast gigabit-capable broadband to more postcodes. Cable broadband speeds have also recently surpassed those offered by full fibre connections. The average download speed stood at 270.6Mbps by 2023.

One of the benefits of cable broadband is avoiding line rental charges and the possibility of combining your broadband with a cable TV package. But cable broadband doesn’t necessarily offer the cheapest broadband prices.

Mobile broadband uses a wireless network to deliver an internet connection to your home. This is similar to how you use your smartphone to get online when you’re out and about. You can get on the internet without a cable or phone line connection, and you can use your broadband anywhere you get a mobile signal.

When you sign up for a mobile broadband deal, you’ll typically be given either a SIM or dongle that you insert into your computer, or a mobile Wi-Fi router that distributes the mobile signal through your home to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Is mobile broadband right for me?

Mobile broadband can be a good option if you live in a more rural area, where fixed fibre and cable connections may not be an option. But only if you get a good signal where you live. By summer of 2023, around 85% of premises in the UK could receive a good 5G signal outdoors, according to Ofcom data.

One downside is that mobile broadband packages often cap data usage, unlike the unlimited-data deals of many fixed broadband connections. Download speeds may also vary depending on where you are. And despite not including line rental charges, mobile broadband data usage can be more expensive.

Use our mobile data calculator to see how much different quantities of data can get you for different online activities, whether that’s gaming, streaming films, listening to music on Spotify or using Snapchat.

Similar to pay as you go mobile deals, with mobile broadband, you don’t necessarily have to sign up for a monthly contract. Some mobile providers offer pay as you go 4G and 5G data SIMs and dongles so you can only pay for the data you need. Or you can get a router and sign up to a 4G or 5G data plan as you would with a mobile phone contract.

As with satellite TV, you’ll need to install a satellite dish on your home to receive a satellite broadband connection. Once hooked up to a Wi-Fi router, it distributes the signal around your home just like regular fixed-line broadband.

Is satellite broadband right for me?

Satellite broadband can be a lifeline for households in the UK’s most rural areas. You can get a signal pretty much anywhere with a clear view of the sky. Plus technological advances mean that modern satellite broadband is faster and more reliable than before. Starlink advertises that the majority of its users can get speeds over 100Mbps.

However, there can be significant costs involved with satellite broadband - both in terms of the installation and service charges. It’s mostly considered a last resort if you can’t get a decent fixed connection or mobile signal.

Like mobile broadband, satellite broadband often comes with data usage caps. It’s also known for having issues with latency because of the time it takes the signal to travel from the satellite to your home.

All of the major broadband providers in the UK now offer full fibre broadband connections. However, whether or not you can get access to it broadband depends on where you live. Providers like BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Giganet and Zen use the full fibre networks provided by Openreach and City Fibre.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media has a monopoly when it comes to cable broadband in the UK.

Mobile broadband uses the same network as your mobile phone signal. This gives you access to deals from many of the big mobile providers, including EE, Vodafone, Three and O2, provided they cover your area.

There are a number of satellite broadband providers in the UK. However, if you want to take advantage of the higher speeds offered by the latest satellite technology, you only really have one option: Starlink.

You won’t necessarily pay more for broadband that’s delivered through your landline. Conversely, you’ll normally pay a premium for the faster download speeds offered by the full fibre and cable broadband connections that work without a landline.

You may pay a little more if you add on a home phone service to your broadband deal. But if you still need and want a home phone, you may be able to find a better deal by packaging the two together. Similarly, you could save overall by choosing a TV, phone and broadband bundle, so it’s worth keeping your options open.

The cheapest broadband for you depends on where you live and which providers and networks are available. But it’s worth remembering that the cheapest isn’t always the best. You want the best-value deal that delivers the broadband speeds you need.

There were still around 22 million landline connections in the UK in 2021. However,  this number has fallen by some 15% since 2000 as more of us rely on our mobile phones for calls. Indeed, research conducted by Uswitch suggests that 35% of those with a landline connection only use it to connect to their home broadband.

If that’s the case for you, switching to a broadband connection that works without a landline could be a tempting prospect. Especially if you’re able to take advantage of the faster speeds offered by the expanding full fibre and cable broadband networks.

However, landlines are still key for some people in the UK. For example, older generations who are more accustomed to using their landline to chat and people who live in rural locations with poorer mobile signals.

If you upgrade to full fibre broadband, your old copper landline will be replaced by fibre-optic cables, which will still let you use a home phone through Digital Voice. From 2027, the Openreach copper phone line won’t be an option at all as it’s planning to retire its entire copper-based network by the end of 2026.

That doesn't mean that you have to give up your landline though, if you do find it useful. If you choose to keep a digital phone line when your copper landline is retired, you’ll likely be able to switch over your same number. You could potentially even continue to use your same handset if it can be adapted to plug into your router.

If you rely on your landline, and you’re concerned about how the switch to digital phones could affect you, speak to your phone provider. They should help you find resilience solutions. For example, making sure you can still call for help in an emergency, even if the power goes out.

Broadband without a landline: the key points

  • If you have an ADSL or Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) connection, your broadband connection is delivered to your home via the old copper telephone wire network
  • If you have one of these connections you’ll pay line rental charges as part of your broadband deal
  • Line rental charges don’t cover the cost of using your home phone. If you no longer use your landline for calls you can choose a broadband-only deal.
  • There are alternatives to getting broadband with a landline, including full fibre, cable, mobile and satellite broadband connections.
  • Full fibre and cable broadband connections offer some of the fastest download speeds available in the UK, but that speed can come at a premium.
  • Mobile and satellite broadband offer an alternative if you don’t have a fixed connection where you live.
  • Openreach is switching off its copper network in December 2026. After this point, you’ll need a digital phone service to continue receiving calls to your home number.

If you’ve been with your current broadband provider for a while, it’s definitely worth checking what else is available where you live and making sure you’re getting a good deal.

We can help with that. We've partnered up with Uswitch to help you compare TV, broadband and phone deals for your postcode.

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