Disclaimer: The information on this page was correct as of July 26, 2021.
While the use of landlines is consistently dropping, we’re still paying line rental on most broadband packages. In this guide, we explain line rental and why it’s still so important.
- What is line rental?
- Why do we pay line rental?
- What if you don’t have a landline?
- How much is line rental?
- Broadband without line rental
What is line rental?
Line rental is the charge for the maintenance of the copper lines and wires used to bring you broadband, landline, and even some TV services. It’s not a charge for your home phone, it’s simply to keep the connection and wires in top condition and means that almost all faults can be repaired with no extra fees.
When comparing deals, the cost of your line rental will be included in the overall cost of your broadband, but might still be broken down on your bill.
Why do I need to pay line rental?
Most broadband connections use your phone line to connect to the internet – even superfast broadband which uses fibre optic cables uses the copper phone lines for the final connection to your home.
Openreach (run by BT) owns the UK’s telephone network infrastructure, including these cables, which other broadband providers (including BT) pay to use. Your line rental costs will go towards paying for these as well as the maintenance of the wires.
Do I still need to pay if I don’t use a landline?
Unfortunately, yes. This is because your broadband connection uses the same line as a home phone to connect you to the internet. Because of this, you’ll still be charged for its use and maintenance, even if you don’t have or use a landline.
You may not know that you’re paying line rental when paying for your broadband as it’s included in the price, however, some broadband providers will break this down on your bill. You’re not paying for something others aren’t – almost everyone has to pay it for their internet.
How much does line rental cost?
Depending on your provider, line rental can cost anything from £15 to £20 per month.
Some broadband providers offer a ‘line rental saver’ which lets you pay a large up-front payment, decreasing your monthly payments, or paying for 12 months in advance. If you opt to go for a line rental saver, you could save money on the overall cost, however, you won’t get it refunded if you switch providers.
Can I get broadband without line rental?
While nearly all providers use the Openreach network to provide broadband, there are a few other options that don’t require a phone line or line rental. Most of these options are only available in select areas, conditions, and from a limited number of providers.
Virgin Media broadband-only
Virgin Media has its own network of cables, meaning that it doesn’t need to use the Openreach network. This also means that they can offer broadband both with and without a landline without charging for line rental.
Because they run their own lines, they can offer extremely fast broadband speeds, ranging from 50Mbps to 1Gbps (1,000Mbps). However, you will need to have new Virgin Media lines installed if you’re planning on switching to Virgin Media and the switching process is a little different.
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
Most fibre broadband connections still use the copper phone lines to get to your home – these are called Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). If you have an FTTC connection, you’ll still have to pay for line rental, however, you might be able to opt for a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connection instead.
With an FTTP connection, instead of the copper wires, your broadband will get to your home through a pure fibre connection. This fibre connection can give you speeds of over 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) because the copper cables can slow down the speed of the connection. These are only available in select areas of the UK and the switching process will be a little different.
4G and 5G mobile connection
You’ve likely heard of 4G and 5G being used to connect mobile phones to the internet, but this is also an option to connect all of your devices. It works the same way as it would on your phone and all you need is a 4G router plugged into the wall with no cables required.
4G connections can offer speeds of around 30Mbps and 5G (which is being introduced across the country) can offer speeds of 300Mbps. While you won’t have to pay for line rental, these connections are often a lot more expensive than cabled connections, even with line rental included.
If you live in a rural area without access to fixed or mobile networks to access the internet, you might want to consider satellite broadband. Satellite broadband is transmitted using a wireless connection using a satellite dish and a transmitter attached to your house, both pointing south. This connects to a geostationary satellite orbiting the Earth which sends a broadband signal to your home.
With satellite broadband, you could see speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 30Mbps, which is very similar to those you would get on a normal broadband connection. However, you might experience a delay or lag on your connection, known as latency. Satellite broadband suffers from high latency due to the amount of time it takes to transmit the signal from your home to the orbiting satellite (over 22,000 miles away).
Although there’s no line rental to pay if you have satellite broadband, the equipment needed could cost over £500, and tariff prices also tend to be higher with usage limits.
Which providers offer broadband without line rental?
Most broadband packages come with line rental so it might be hard to find a connection without one. However, there are a few providers that offer broadband without line rental, including:
- Virgin Media
- Three (4G/5G)
- EE (4G/5G)
- O2 (4G)
If you have a broadband-only tariff from one of these providers, you’ll have to let your new provider know when you switch as your new provider might not be able to connect your home through these lines.