You can keep your landline – I just want my broadband, TV and mobile
Last week I found myself attending a roundtable event hosted by new broadband provider Relish which claims to be able to provide superfast broadband into your home without the wires, or more importantly without the need for a landline. Their research claims that 47% of homes in London would ditch their landline if they could. When will this be possible?
As is the nature of these events, there was broad consensus around the table that the model that imposes the need to have a landline before you can access the services you do want is clearly outdated. The conversation centred on the fairly transient nature of modern life, the need to get your broadband installed quickly when you move, the fact that a lot of data access is now done on the move or outside of the home, none of which are made any easier by the need to first get your landline sorted.
While the market for broadband has been fiercely competitive in recent years, with costs dropping but service levels and speeds improving, the cost of a landline has risen 38% in five years to an average of £15.35 per month or £184.20 per year – that’s a lot of money to pay for something you don’t want. This, I believe, is an issue for two main reasons.
Nuisance calls have increased due to a rising number of calls from accident claim and PPI companies
Firstly, I only get two types of call on my landline these days, once a week from my mum and the other 3-5 calls a day from unwanted, largely automated calls trying to sell me something or trick me into sharing my password, and what is starting to really grate is that I’m paying for this! Last Sunday during our family dinner the phone went, on the other end was a solar panel salesman, on a Sunday! As annoying as this is for me it is not as important as my second point.
The ongoing cost of a landline is a deterrent for families on low incomes to get broadband. Although the challenges of digital inclusion are numerous and fairly complex, this is a real issue that during research comes up time and time again. If you have a fixed low income, signing up to a landline is a step too far. These are households that are on pay-as-you-go mobile contracts and a landline represents too much of a financial commitment.
Surely we are at the point where the need for a landline, to access the services we do value, has come to an end. When I receive the very intrusive calls during the day and in the evenings I imagine what it must be like if you are a venerable individual who lives alone. Each of those calls must act as yet another reminder of your isolation. In addition, if we want to address the skills gap and improve access for all segments of society then removing one of the financial barriers feels like a great start.
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