Less than two thirds of Brits use landlines

A quarter of households in the UK have a landline that they don’t use, amounting to £480 million being wasted each year, according to new research.

Comparethemarket.com found that just 60 per cent of people have and use a landline, while a further 12 per cent don’t have one at all. The remaining 6.5 million households therefore have no need for the landline they have.

Ofcom estimates the average monthly spend on landline services is £23.50 a month, with three quarters of this value relating to broadband and bundled calls. Compare the market therefore suggests households are spending £73 a year on landline services they don’t need, amounting to the £480 million figure.

UK landline use

Mobile phone use is a main reason for this decline in popularity, but a quarter claim to have stopped using it because they’re fed up with cold callers and scams. Call screening is of course standard with a mobile phone but can be an added extra with some providers.

And this trend is expected to continue as smartphone use grows, especially among younger generations. Only 35 per cent of 18-35 year olds use a landline, while 30 per cent don’t have one.

“The death of the landline is ‘hopefully’ upon us,” declared Peter Earl, head of utilities at Compare the Market. “Smart phones are slowly but surely making landlines obsolete, and generations Y and Z will likely ensure its final demise. 

“It seems that a huge number of people are currently wasting money with landlines that they never use or have connected in their home. The biggest cost of a having a landline is the line-rental charges – which are often required to have broadband – but the costs of operating that landline are sometimes charged on top. This means that there is a significant amount being thrown away on monthly charges for a service that is never used.”

Virgin Media, which uses its cable network to deliver broadband services, currently offers broadband without the need for a landline while several fibre to the premise (FTTP) alternative network providers (altnets) also eliminate this requirement.

There are still protections for consumers who only need a landline however. New Ofcom regulations have lowered the cost of line rental for landline-only customers as they do not receive the added benefit of a broadband connection that justifies the additional cost.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.