It’s 2014! So why do landlines keep getting pricier?

Let’s be honest. Who still uses landlines? Granted, lots of us have them because they’re necessary for most kinds of broadband, but these days they seem more of a conduit for spam calls than anything actually useful. 

And yet according to uSwitch, the price of renting a landline has risen by 29% over the past three years, and it’s set to rise even further in the coming months. This goes across all 4 of the big broadband providers: BT, Sky, Virgin Media, and TalkTalk, and means that for the first time ever line rental prices will exceed £16 a month.

uswitch-line-rentalSource: uSwitch

Not only are the price increases above inflation, meaning we pay £42 a year more than we did in 2011, the cost doesn’t even include a phone package. So why bother with a landline when you can buy a mobile phone and make as many calls as you like, with texts and data thrown in, for less than £15 a month?

The only downside to sticking to a mobile number is that non-geographic numbers (numbers that start with 08, and 07 for example) are not included in your monthly allowance of minutes. 0800 number are especially annoying, because they can cost upwards of 20p a minute despite being ‘free’. The only major mobile network to not do this on its standard packages is Three. O2, Vodafone, and EE still make you pay.

But there are ways to get around this, like, and apps like WeQ4U (iOS and Android) do all the work for you and let you skip most of the waiting in call queues. Even if you end up ringing the wrong department, the person on the other end will probably just transfer you to where you need to go.

So why not just ditch the landline? Oh right… broadband.

Virgin Media doesn’t require you to have a landline for its cable broadband services, but the yearly cost is higher than with other providers.

Mobile internet is fantastic, but limited by the fact that networks either won’t offer unlimited data or they refuse to let you tether your computer onto that connection. While 3G itself isn’t really that suitable for using all the time (and 2G is about as useful as being able to smell though your elbow), if you live in an area covered by 4G it would be ideal to be able to use that instead of fixed broadband. Sitting at my desk at home, the 4G signal on my phone is three times faster than the Wi-Fi on my laptop. That is, of course, assuming that my broadband connection is functioning the way it’s supposed to.

Sadly, there don’t seem to be any 4G dongles that exceed a 20GB allowance per month, which isn’t much use if you stream films – an HD Netflix film is around 1.5GB of data. On the bright side, London-based company Relish will provide you with unlimited 4G home broadband on a £20 a month rolling contract – but only in very central London. So at the moment, it’s looking like we’re a bit stuck with our pricey landlines – but we’ve seen the shape of things to come, and it’s definitely not fixed lines.

Image: Ericcsson 1001 by Jmak via Wikimedia Commons

Tom Pritchard

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