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Relish Study Finds 60% of UK People Only Take Line Rental for Broadband

Thursday, November 24th, 2016 (3:37 am) - Score 998

A new OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK adults from broadband ISP Relish Wireless, which operates a superfast fixed wireless 4G network in Swindon and central London, has found that 18% of respondents don’t even know their home phone number and 60% only take a land line to get broadband.

Apparently 36% of respondents only use their land line once a month or less and if it rings then 33% will “assume it to be an automated or sales call“, while 22% simply wouldn’t even bother picking up the phone.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently moved to improve the transparency of broadband pricing by forcing related ISPs to include the cost of line rental into their monthly prices, yet 60% wish they could get rid of their landline completely (a 20% increase since 2014) and 22% expect to be land line-free within two years (the real-world shift is unlikely to be that dramatic).

Bridget Lorimer, Relish’s Head of Brand and Marketing, said:

“Our results have found that millions of consumers are paying for a service that they just aren’t using, exemplified by the fact they can’t even recall their own number! Despite this however, they are still being charged for monthly line rental on top of the cost of their broadband by internet service providers. It is ridiculous to think that today anyone would be paying for a service they don’t use, and it is clear the British public are desperate to say goodbye to the landline.”

In fairness it’s not entirely correct to say that “millions of consumers are paying for a service that they just aren’t using” because for many people you’re still using it for broadband, even though the voice calls side is no longer as important as it once was (the voice component is only a small part of the overall cost).

Going forward we are anticipating a much more dramatic shift in the market, with future solutions like Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) making it possible to order a FTTC / G.fast style broadband service without any voice component. However SOGEA won’t begin its commercial roll-out until 2018.

Eventually VoIP is expected to become the primary way of conducting calls over a broadband line. Not forgetting that improvements in 4G and future 5G mobile will also eat into the existing fixed line market, albeit only slowly as for now you can often still get a better and more flexible (usage allowances etc.) fixed line broadband service.

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26 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    The problem with these surveys by Relish is that it’s “solution” provides such feeble broadband- according to Think Broadband speed test results, the majority of its users get the equivalent of a decent ADSL line. Had it launched a decade ago it may have been viable, however when 95% of London premises can get 30Mbps+ download speeds it is of little relevance to most.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Just looked at the Relish website, which also appears to be in a time warp! Its price comparison table appears to use undiscounted competitor pricing from April, totally disregards the likely faster speeds from the competing products, additional included services such as free calls (mentioned in passing in small print) and availability of discounts on other services such as TV and mobile.

      Apart from that it’s fine! 😉

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Isn’t that more of a problem with Relish’s service itself than the survey :)? We did a similar study a year or so ago and got the same sort of result, although there’s certainly a lot of misconceptions out there about what line rental reflects.

      As for Relish’s website, perhaps one for the ASA to tackle.

    3. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Yes and its the misconceptions that are key here

      Many people believe that they are only paying line rental for voice, when in fact you pay it no matter what service you choose on the line. The key is in the name, it isn’t voice rental it is line rental.

    4. Avatar slackshoe says:

      … line rental, part of the cost of which is the currently mandatory connection to PSTN equipment at the exchange. If this was to be made optional, costs could be reduced and savings passed on.

  2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

    If anything, voice revenues offset, if only slightly, the full costs of provision. It seems to me very likely that a fixed BB service sans voice is going to cost as least as much as one that included a voice service as the latter costs the CPs pretty well nothing and it’s all sunk cost anyway.

  3. Avatar TheFacts says:

    How do Relish expect a non wireless broadband service to be delivered and paid for?

  4. Avatar Eccles says:

    That’s why ISP’s such as AA and Freeola offer a line rental only service at pretty much costs, because customers have asked. Nearest thing to SOGEA. You can still have the broadband elsewhere.

    1. Avatar GNewton says:

      The article says: “However SOGEA won’t begin its commercial roll-out until 2018.”

      Curious: Is there any difference between VOIP from e.g. AAISP and SOGEA?

      For example, AAISP charges £10.00 for line rental on its Home::1 package which has no voice telephony service!

  5. Avatar dragoneast says:

    I find there is a massive abuse of landlines by marketeers (amongst whom I include “survey” companies) of all sorts. If you want a single reason why my landline “isn’t used” there it is. I’m sure I’m not alone. (And yes by and large by a judicious use of various technologies I’ve rid myself of them, almost. They aren’t the cleverest people on the planet and tend to use number sequences, so bar the first three digit sequence, and hey presto). But when the mobile or the electricity fails, when it still does surprisingly often, the landline can be a lifesaver. The trouble is we only die once, and until then think we all think we’re immortal and nothing unfortunate will ever happen to us.

    I suppose we could abandon all the the copper now, and everyone could wait until the Government and the commercial companies get round tuit with fibre. Or we have to pay one way or another to maintain the copper in the meantime. Our choice. I’ve never yet come across an unprofitable ISP with their phone line scam, though. Just call it something else.

    If I want an advertisement, I’ll go and find it. And there are ways of letting my views be known, if I want to, as well. It’s not difficult. But since Regulators like to look for trouble and want an abuse to tackle, here it is. But they won’t, because their paymasters in the marketing industry (who have somehow managed to prise themselves into a position where they pull everyone’s strings) won’t have it. So we are left with feeble PR of the weakest sort in TPS and the like.

    Auto-diallers and that software that gives out false numbers should be banned, for a start. They have no legitimate use, whatsoever. It equates to fraud. Oh, and don’t just blame the foreigners, as we always do. Our friends at GCHQ and BT Research at Martlesham could get on to it. But the consumer doesn’t matter other than as a convenient excuse in the government and regulator world, and never has. Our politicians are more worried about what consenting adults do in private. It’s more sexy and they don’t make money out of it.

    1. Avatar 125uS says:

      “Auto-diallers and that software that gives out false numbers should be banned, for a start.”

      There are valid reasons for Presentation Numbers. It should be policed, but it’s not true to say there’s no reason for it. Mostly it’s to show a main switchboard number when someone calls you instead of an individual’s extension that might not be reachable from outside the organisation.

      “h, and don’t just blame the foreigners, as we always do. Our friends at GCHQ and BT Research at Martlesham could get on to it.”

      I think you’d be surprised at the small percentage of inbound international calls that arrive on BT’s network. When I last looked at the market some years ago most calls arrived on aggregator networks like Arbinet’s. An inbound call might have traversed a handful of networks before it arrives on BT’s, if it even touches BT’s at all. An inbound international call to a, say, TalkTalk customer might never have touched any part of BT’s telephone network.

      Telephone routing is more like a postal service than the Internet – all the postman who puts it through your letterbox knows is the ‘from’ address on the back and which bin he pulled it out of at the sorting office – there’s no way for him to verify the from address or to know what route the envelope took to arrive in his bin. I think this ultimately gets fixed as telcos retire their PSTN switches and move towards a type of signalling known as SIP.

  6. Avatar 125uS says:

    I buy DSL all around the world as part of my job, mostly as cheap back-up circuits for leased lines. In my experience, naked DSL (no phone service) costs more than DSL with a phone service, because the telco is expecting the phone to be used a bit for incoming or outgoing calls and thus generate some revenue. If there’s no phone service the potential revenue is lower and so they raise the price to offset that.

    I generally do buy the option with no phone service as I pay the bill for my customers and don’t want them making phone calls over it that I have to fund.

    My understanding is that line rental as we understand it in the UK pays mostly for the maintenance of the physical pair of wires – the phone bit is a freebie on top. The line rental is how Openreach get paid. It is interesting to note the gap between openreach’s wholesale rate for that rental and the price that ISPs charge for it.

  7. Avatar Optimist says:

    I pay my ISP for a high-capacity broadband service – the landline phone is included but I no longer need it.

    1. Avatar 125uS says:

      But you do rather need the pair of wires that the landline is delivered over. Signal degradation is quite high with the physical bearer removed.

    2. Avatar Optimist says:

      Of course I need the line (a DOCSIS cable actually rather than twisted pair) – the voice service now is of little value however.

  8. Avatar Mike C says:

    I get phone calls with my service (albeit weekends only), but I don’t use it. I don’t even have a handset plugged in, in fact it’s in a cupboard gathering dust.

    As for the number, I suppose I could throw out some digits to guess what it could be?

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      I think too we sometimes forget how long the ghosts of the past can linger. It was interesting that when I had problems with the phone line (and was paying extra rental for the extension) the BT engineer who came to change the internal wiring (which made no difference) failed to reconnect the extension, and upon this being pointed out (by me) and as the wiring was right in front of him, stated “what extension, we’ve no record of it?”.

      It gels. When BT was first formed, I worked with the wife of a local engineer and the tales we used to hear of legendary muddle and incompetence left over from the GPO days would have been Benny Hill style funny if we weren’t on the receiving end. It would be a miracle if the consequences (particularly at the local loop end distance from BT bosses) had all been eradicated completely, even now. (Though I think the 1988 storm did what time couldn’t and forced change, in this locality). The supermarkets, who never had to deal with a nationalised legacy, still struggle with consistency of service, more often than I’m sure they would wish.

  9. Avatar MikeW says:

    Remember the days when you had to pay phone rental too?

    1. Avatar Mike C says:

      That was a thing?

    2. Avatar MikeW says:

      The first time you could buy your own phone was in the early 80’s. Until that point, you rented it from the GPO in addition to the line rental.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPO_telephones#General_history

    3. Avatar Mike C says:

      That’s incredible, I can’t recall when I lived with my parents when we first got a landline. Crazy that you had to rent one.

    4. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @MikeC – not really, the phone was part of the whole service that you rented. No master sockets.

    5. Avatar dragoneast says:

      Yep, and I remember that BT carried on charging me a phone (as well as phone line) rental (and an additional monthly charge for for the extension socket) until I changed provider (WLR) in 2003. Makes you wonder if some people are still being charged the extra, who have never changed providers?

    6. Avatar Chris P says:

      ahh, the good old days when end to end was known and controlled. Everyone had the same quality of handset, data over pstn was an analogue modem and fibre optics promised more efficient greater bandwidth exchange to exchange communications. a leased line was as it was written, a point to point always on circuit from point a to point b leased over a period of time.

      Believe it or not the PSTN wasn’t designed as a computer comms driven information super highway, it was a voice driven communications tool. As its what was available its, been repurposed for data comms and surprise surprise its not kept pace with future requirements.

      Some want fibre, others are happy with adsl, back in the past the choice was just a telephone or not. The current system was built for cheap deployment of 1 product to all households. The fact is rolling out fibre is expensive and even more expensive when rolling out to everyone including those who don’t want it in addition to the few who do. if fibre worked the same as copper we’d all be on fibre, it doesn’t so we are not.

      Everything costs, nothing is truly free, cheap fast enough BB is a barrier to faster future proof fibre as no one wants to subsidise their neighbours who don’t want to pay more for a faster service.

  10. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    Coma companies make their money from “call packages”; I went through a friends phone bills over several months and he was shocked to see that the calls made on his “Unlimited weekend and evening calls” package would have cost him less than £1 per per year, as he makes most of his calls using his mobile minutes.

    That shaved nearly £8 off his monthly bill, as did removing BT Sport, which he had no idea he was signed up for or paying.

    My average bill for calls over the last few years is 50p per month; the highest was £2.20 and the lowest 1p.

    That £2.20 was SWMBO calling her mum in China once per week, before they got a new flat and internet service – now it is all done via the interwebs on QQ.

  11. Avatar TheFacts says:

    Do Relish think you can have broadband without line rental, ie the cost of a line?

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