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26 Percent of UK People Never Use their Landline for Phone Calls

Thursday, Apr 22nd, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,952
telephone broken uk

A new Opinium survey of 2,001 UK adults, which was conducted in mid-March 2021 and commissioned by Uswitch, has revealed that 26% of people with a landline don’t even have a phone attached to it and 35% of respondents said they only have a landline because it’s needed for their broadband connection.

By now it’s a well-known fact that traditional landline phone services are in terminal decline, at least they are for the residential market. Today most of us own a Mobile phone and probably make way more use of it than our dusty home phones, many of which are connected via a copper line over the traditional phone (PSTN / POTS) network. This is hardly a surprise, given the higher cost of call packages via traditional home phones.

On top of that a lot of people also complement this with Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services (Skype, Vonage etc.) and free internet messaging solutions (Email, Facebook, WhatsApp etc.), all of which are changing how we communicate. The number of homes with a landline has thus fallen by c.4 million (down 15%) since the year 2000 to about 22 million connections now.

Broadband ISPs are aware of this too, which is partly why it’s often now possible to buy a data-only connection on both copper (ADSL, FTTC) and fibre optic (FTTP) lines, not that removing the phone (voice) service from a copper line will help the price of your package much (most of the cost is in the rental of the physical line, rather than the voice side of things). The new survey helps to give such changes some context.

Summary of Survey Results

➤ On average, households spend just 5 minutes a day (35 minutes a week) talking on their landlines, down 27% from two years ago. But older consumers make 46 minutes of calls a week on their landlines, compared to 25 minutes for young people. Likewise, 95% of people aged over-65s have a landline, but this falls to 82% for those aged 35 to 54, and ownership drops to just 52% among 18-24 year olds.

➤ 29% say the last landline call they received was suspicious or an unsolicited marketing call, which compares with 17% on mobile phones. The number of nuisance calls reported has not changed dramatically in recent years, but the proportion of scam calls has risen to now make up more than 26% of unwanted contacts (up from 4% in 2017).

➤ 22% say they avoid answering their landline phone in case it is a nuisance call, and 28% have had a bad experience with scam and sales callers

➤ 83% of rural households have a landline, compared to 65% in urban areas, which is partly because it remains a lifeline for residents in rural areas where mobile reception can often be poor.

➤ Landline use has even fallen during lockdown, with 27% of households using their connection less, compared to only 15% using it more frequently.

➤ 35% of households have registered for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to dodge nuisance calls, which in our experience seems to have little impact on the problem. By comparison the most popular solution to such issues among 18 to 34-year-olds is simply to stop answering the landline altogether.

➤ 59% of households that have both a landline and a mobile phone say making a call on a mobile is cheaper. However, 37% of landline users don’t actually know how much their calls cost, and 18% of people can’t even remember the last time they used their landline for a call.

The decline in landline use should at least make it easier for homes to handle the pending removal of traditional phone services, which is due to complete on Openreach’s (BT) UK network by the end of December 2025. In their place operator’s will be providing digital (VoIP) style solutions, which most people will be able to take as an optional extra alongside broadband (in the past, broadband was the optional extra).

We should add that a special low bandwidth service will also exist from some ISPs for phone-only customers. For the most part this will just mean plugging your existing handset (analogue or DECT) into the back of a router instead of a wall socket.

The likelihood of all this is that, after 2025, many households may simply choose not to bother having a home phone service at all, instead placing greater reliance on mobile calls, VoIP services and internet messaging solutions (these don’t need to remain fixed to a specific location, like traditional phone services do).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    It’s become the scam call phone!
    That’s the only time it rings! But when one is living with the parent, even though it’s temporary, I still can’t get her to give it up!
    It only gets used for 084 numbers. But even then, there’s another PAYG phone got that!

    1. Avatar photo Phil says:

      Ironically having moved to a local number on VoIP for an ’emulated’ landline for many years, we’ve not had one unsolicited call, just maybe one or two wrong numbers. I think this is because the numbers are not published, whereas the BT landline range of numbers must get published somewhere and makes it easier for spammers to just dial numbers at random between those ranges.

      As many will know landlines are going, although some people need a landline for reliable communications (where they have no mobile signal, which usually means they are more rural, which usually means power cuts are more frequent), and there is no replacement for the reliability of a traditional landline.

      Whilst the industry isn’t saying it, the landline is being discontinued and decommissioned, VoIP isn’t the same thing, even if made to look and feel the same. For many people this doesn’t matter, but for many others VoIP isn’t a like for like replacement.

      Of course the driving factor is money, revenues have fallen from landline calls as this survey further shows, and the equipment in the exchanges are coming to end of life and would be very costly to replace. Sometimes progress makes things worse, not better.

  2. Avatar photo adslmax says:

    I never use any landline phone call, still unplugged from master socket (telephone) for years now.

  3. Avatar photo Uncle_Monty says:

    Just moved to SOGEA here, having realised we hadn’t plugged the phone in for over 6 years. And when it was connected, it was just a hotline for scam / spam and also for someone that used to have the number…and that was the worst part. Endless torrent of intrusive calls from agencies chasing them for this, that, and the other – and that was the original driver for pulling the damn thing out in the first place.

    Yes, of course it’s possible get blocker devices / services, but given that the voice frequency had little utility to us anyway, I didn’t see why we should.

    History now.

  4. Avatar photo Mr William Wilkinson says:

    I was just getting pestered by krank callers on the landline. I’ve not used it for around 3 years and I don’t miss it one bit.

  5. Avatar photo Mark says:

    You can get phones like Call Guardian which will stop all nuisance calls, we have a VIP list to allow numbers we know through, certainly can’t do without a Landlines, not everyone lives in a good signal area, that’s mostly down to mast objectors and thick Cotswold stone walls and narrow streets.

  6. Avatar photo Ig Og says:

    You could buy a mobile phone for the price of virgin medias connection charge.

  7. Avatar photo Aitch says:

    I’m really surprised it’s not a lot higher than 25%!

    1. Avatar photo ian says:

      Same here, really thought it would be higher.

      Im 36 and havent lived at home since i was 16….i’ve never had a landline plugged in.

      I have the landline number stored and stick it on any form that insists on a number and is being difficult with a fake one!

    2. Avatar photo Mark says:

      25% of 2000 people that’s not a figure to rely on.

  8. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

    I’m glad I got my Panasonic phones which says the CID via Text to Speech, makes it easier to tell legit from scam.

    I still have a landline, but only because of others in the house, otherwise I’d just use my mobile.

  9. Avatar photo Randy says:

    Is it any wonder? considering the cost of most landline phone calls, and the fact you can’t take it with you?

    The only time I’ve ever had an active POTS line, it was to plug a DSL modem into it.

Comments are closed

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