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Time to lose the landline?

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about the possibility of going mobile only and dropping the home landline. My conclusion at the time was that despite the landline being redundant in many ways it did still fulfil some useful purpose and we couldn't manage without it. I've decided to revisit the question two years on and see whether anything has changed. The landline has become increasingly redundant as communication has become more and more a personal, not a household, experience. Mobile phones, email addresses, IM addresses are all personal identifiers and it's increasingly unusual to share these across a family. In the early days of  these technologies it was more common to a have a single mobile phone or a single email address in a family but much rarer now. Communication is about reaching an individual but a landline is tied to the household - how many multi landline households do you know? These days I rarely receive calls on our landline; I think the only people who call me on it are parents and that's probably because they can easily remember a number I've had for 25 years, unlike my mobile numbers!


According to Ofcom (Communications Market Report 2010), 15% of households are now mobile only, a 2% increase since 2008. However in the 25 to 34 age group 23% of households are mobile only. So more and more people are choosing to dispense with a landline and go mobile only.


Two years ago I came up with a number of reasons why a landline was still necessary for me. So have any of these changed?


  • ADSL broadband - We still don't have naked DSL in the UK so if you want ADSL broadband you have to pay for a landline service, even if you never use it. Cable broadband, assuming you live in a service area may be a non landline broadband option, although a broadband only service from from my local provider is more expensive than the broadband component of a bundled service, making the saving negligible. Mobile broadband, assuming good coverage in your home (which I don't have here), might be an option for some although download speeds are generally slower than decent fixed broadband. 
  • 999 or 112 emergency calls – Still falls into the “I’ll probably never need it but can I afford to take a chance” category. However, wIth all the mobile phones in our house I'm now tending towards the view that this is an irrelevance, despite the theoretical convenience of knowing that the 'phone on the wall' is always available in an emergency situation. 
  • Flaky mobile coverage – This is still a huge problem and one that the mobile operators seem to be doing little to resolve. I've seen no change in the last two years where I live. In-building coverage is still very network dependent and a problem for many people. Fortunately O2 voice coverage is okay here so giffgaff does work for me!
  • Switch to VoIP – Despite not being quite as convenient as a landline, VoIP feels more like a viable alternative to a landline than even a couple of years ago. Mobile VoIP on a WiFi ready mobile handset over your home WiFi and broadband is a great alternative to cellular mobile if coverage is flaky at home.
  • Power cuts – A few weeks ago we had a 18 hour power cut at home and by the end of it even my mobile was running on vapour! However unless you experience a lot of power cuts a mobile should suffice.
  • Local phone number – Local phone numbers are less relevant than they used to be, although it's still generally cheaper to call a landline from another landline number rather than a mobile number. However you can get a local VoIP number for less than £1 a month and if you route it to a SIP account it costs nothing to receive calls. 

Everyone in our household has their own mobile now - three members are on giffgaff. And if the landline wasn't there they'd just use their minutes bundles for all their calls. Mobile and VoIP calling has increasingly replaced landline calling for us, however pricing and regulation mean that a broadband service without a landline still doesn't seem to make sense - so I guess I'll stick with the landline for the moment. Next review in 2012!


Jonathan Jensen is also at and @sevendotzero on Twitter.


We still have a landline for some of the reasons you state, i.e. gg / O2 coverage on my phone in the house 1-2 bars signal strength, just about works, ADSL connection required and parents reluctance to embrace mobile technology. They just about have a mobile phone but rarely use it.


I haven't had a landline since 2000 and apart from the odd 0800 call from familys landlines I haven't really missed it or the line rental either..

Now I am on Giffgaff even the 0800 calls are now free so I'm loving it even more!

Thanks for the comments. Good to get feedback from giffgaff users on how they view landlines.


How did you get to post on the blog?



sevendotzero - Truly EXCELLENT post! Oddly enough just a few days ago on the giffgaff survey I put that I would love to read more of this kind of thing and a few days later this appears, coincidence?!! Hope not ;-)


I only have a landline as Virgin Media require you to have one as part of their cable bundles even though the landlines actually attach to the BT infrastructure! Apart from (obviously) to get more money out of you I've never quite figured out the point of that. Anyway, the only calls I EVER receive on it are spam recorded message advertising calls and nothing else!! Everyone else calls me on my mobile.

One of the things I really want to do is have more guest bloggers. Sevendotzero and I chatted about it a couple of weeks ago. It was great to see that guest bloggers were also wanted by those who took the survey. Are there any other bloggers/ writers/ community members you'd like to hear from? We'll definitely have sevendotzero again! 




I have cable broadband from Virgin but had this installed when it was NTL and you didn't have to take a phone line to take broadband by cable..

No line rental for me!


Ring Virgin up tell them you don't need the Phone line anymore as you don't use it and would like it removed from your bill, they can only say yes or no, they may just say yes no problem with that..


i still need my landline for certain things like  contact from my ebay and paypal accounts...but apart from that i dont actually phone out from it




I have ebay and Paypal I don't have a problem with not having a landline and never have with these company's!