In many cases, getting broadband means having to have an active landline connection, which means having to pay line rental. However, it is possible to get broadband without landline.
Do I need to pay line rental?
Line rental is different to paying for a landline package. Currently, the majority of broadband plans in the UK are connected - either wholly or in some part - using copper telephone cables. Line rental pays for your space on this connection and contributes to the upkeep of the phone network.
When choosing a broadband plan, line rental is included as part of the cost. Line rental is only applicable if you've chosen either a standard broadband (ADSL) or Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) connection. These broadband types use the BT Openreach Network which covers 99% and 96% of the UK, respectively.
But there is broadband that doesn't rely on copper telephone cables to deliver a connection, and therefore doesn't require a landline.
What options are available for broadband without a landline?
There are a few options available if you're looking to get the internet without the need for a phone-line.
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
Also known as 'ultrafast', 'full fibre', and 'Fibre to the Home' (FTTH), this type of broadband uses fibre optic cables for the entirety of its journey from the telephone exchange to your home. In other words, it doesn't use copper wires at any point.
Because it doesn't use copper telephone wires - which can sometimes interfere with the speed of your connection due to being old, damaged or frayed - it is the most reliable type of broadband available.
In addition to being the most reliable, it is also the fastest type of broadband, with speeds of up to 3,000Mbps (3Gbps) available with select providers. This means you could download a 2-hour movie in 4K Ultra HD resolution in under 2 minutes.
As of December 2022, FTTP broadband is only available to 33% of UK households.
Co-axial cable (Hybrid) broadband
Many broadband customers assume that because of the fast speeds it offers, that Virgin Media must be a full fibre broadband provider. However, they actually use Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) technology.
In simple terms, this means that Virgin delivers its broadband connection using a combination of fibre optic and multi-core copper - or coaxial - cables.
Virgin advertises minimum average download speeds of 108Mbps, and more than 1Gbps as their maximum.
Although HFC connections can achieve similar – and in Virgin’s case – faster speeds than some full fibre broadband providers, it is generally considered less reliable overall. For this reason, Virgin has begun to upgrade its infrastructure, aiming to have its entire network converted to full fibre by 2028.
At the time of writing, Virgin Media’s network covers 55% of the UK.
If you don't live in an area where either full fibre or Virgin Media's broadband services are available just yet, mobile broadband is poised to become the best and most accessible way to get online without the need for phone-line rental.
Depending on the provider, 4G mobile broadband has average download speeds of around 30Mbps and is widely available across the UK. A recent report from telecoms regulator Ofcom estimates 4G mobile coverage to be between 79 - 87% depending on the provider.
5G - an addition, rather than a replacement to 4G - has also begun rolling out across the UK. Average download speeds for 5G are currently up to six times faster than 4G, with current average download speeds of between 90 - 230Mbps. Ofcom reports that between 48 - 64% of premises can now get 5G coverage from at least one provider.
Another option for broadband that doesn’t require a landline is satellite.
Currently, satellite broadband is mostly used by those who live in remote areas who can’t access fixed-line broadband and fail to get a decent mobile signal. It's often viewed as a slower, more expensive, and more restrictive option than fixed-line broadband due to most providers imposing data caps.
However, thanks to Elon Musk’s satellite company Starlink - which is now available across various parts of the UK - satellite broadband is becoming an increasingly popular and affordable option.
Availability of broadband without a landline
|Type of Broadband||Coverage % in the UK||Available w/out a phone line?|
|Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)||96%||No|
|Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)||33%||Yes|
|Mobile Broadband||Depends on network provider||Yes|
Is it cheaper to get broadband without a landline?
If you don’t intend to use your landline, you can often save money by selecting a broadband-only deal.
However, if you still regularly use your landline to make and receive calls, it’s important to decide whether getting rid of this service is worthwhile - especially if you intend to replace it with an alternative, such as just using a mobile phone. Depending on your level of usage, it may end up being cheaper to select a broadband with landline deal.
Which providers offer broadband without a landline?
While most providers give the option of broadband deals with only line-rental without the need for an additional home phone package, there are some providers that offer broadband without the need for line-rental at all.
Providers who offer broadband without the need for a landline include: Virgin Media, Hyperoptic Broadband and CommunityFibre. These providers do not use BT Openreach's network, instead operating and maintaining their own network and infrastructure.
However, there are also a number of providers on the Openreach network that offer full fibre broadband deals. These include BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone.
Soon, all broadband plans will only be available without a landline. This is because Openreach have announced its decision to switch off its PSTN (Public Switch Telephone Network) for both business and residential customers by December 2025. This means that the UK's existing copper-based telephone network will be entirely replaced with fibre and that all voice communications and calls will be made via the internet. It also means that broadband services that incorporate copper cables - like ADSL and FTTC - will no longer be available.
And, from September 5th 2023, the Nationwide Stop Sell will come into effect. This means that traditional PSTN products - including ADSL and FTTC broadband deals - will no longer be offered by any broadband providers on the Openreach network.
To ensure they meet their December 2025 deadline, Openreach is upgrading its infrastructure nationwide, meaning it may not be long until you can get broadband without the need for a landline at all.
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