Broadband without a phone line explained
By Dan Howdle | Friday, January 31st 2020
In this guide
- What is broadband without a phone line?
- Can I get broadband without a phone line?
- Virgin broadband without a phone line
- Is mobile broadband an alternative?
- Frequently asked questions
The main reason most of us might want to get a broadband deal without having to have a home phone is twofold. On the one hand, we feel we just wouldn't use a landline enough to justify having one – most younger folk tend to rely solely on their mobiles more than they elders. The other is that we believe not having one might save us some money.
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but while there are a few different ways you can have broadband without a phone line, none of them are going to save you much money. In fact, most of these methods will see you pay more for the privilege of not having one. Let's explore why.
What is broadband without a phone line?
First let's establish what we mean by 'broadband without a phone line'. And before you slap your forehead at how obvious that is, it may surprise you to learn there are a few different definitions, both in terms of what us consumers might mean by it and what providers might mean by it.
- Broadband without line rental – Some people are trying to find a way to not pay line rental, so to them 'broadband without a phone line' means paying for broadband, but without paying for rental of the line the broadband arrives on. Hopefully you can see the problem with wanting that, and why that doesn't exist when talking about broadband brought to your home via a physical line. Basically, there are no lines without line rental, whether you attach a phone to the end or not
- Broadband with no home phone package – Providers refer to this type as 'broadband-only', which is a bit of a misnomer, since you will get a landline and you will get a home phone number, it's just there's no calling package (such as free evening and weekend calls), so you will have to pay for each call you make
- Broadband without a phone or phone number – This is what most of us are after when we look for 'broadband without a phone line', although within this definition we're also, usually, hoping to not have to pay any line rental. As mentioned earlier, that sort of deal doesn't actually exist
- Broadband with no physical line – This is broadband that arrives at your home with no physical line at all. The only types of broadband that fit this description are 4G or 5G mobile broadband, 4G or 5G tethering and satellite broadband, all of which we will discuss in further detail some way down the page
Can I get broadband without a phone line?
There are a few ways to get broadband without a phone line, but brace yourself because none of them save you money, most are actually more expensive, and some have pretty major drawbacks. At the end of the day the most cost effective way to bring broadband into your home is through a wire under the street.
- Broadband without phone from Virgin Media – Virgin Media is the only widely available provider to offer broadband without a home phone or home phone number. But there's a catch. Because you will still have to pay line rental on the line that brings you your broadband, broadband without a phone from Virgin is no cheaper on average than broadband with a phone from Virgin. You might save a couple of quid a month on a good day
- FTTP providers such as Hyperoptic – If you're extremely lucky, you may live somewhere where you can get a pure fibre 'FTTP' broadband package. FTTP stands for 'fibre to the home' and differentiates itself from 'FTTC' (fibre to the cabinet) in the sense that the fibre optic cable runs all the way to your door, where with FTTC it only runs as far as the green cabinet you see on street corners. The remaining distance is copper wire. Copper is much slower than fibre, so FTTP broadband (also sometimes called FTTH) offers speeds much, much faster than anything else. But it's available to less than 2% of UK properties, so it's unlikely you can get it. Hyperoptic is your best bet if you want to take a punt and see. And even if you can get it, you'll still have to contend with the Virgin Media problem outlined above
- Mobile broadband – This type of broadband arrives via the same masts and signals as your mobile phone data. It's 4G, basically, but you can get it in a number of different forms, including in some instances a full blown home router that works via 4G, and more recently 5G in certain city centres. But it's expensive and tends to be less reliable than a fixed line
- 4G or 5G tethering – Tethering is where you tell your smartphone to act like a wifi router, allowing your other devices to connect to it. Is it a practical alternative to home broadband? Not really. You'll struggle to find an unlimited data deal that allows unlimited tethering – the allowances often differ – and your smartphone is, frankly, a terrible router with very limited range
- Satellite broadband – Yes, you can get broadband from space, via a satellite dish. No, you don't have to have a phone line with it. Yes, it will cost you many multiples of what you'd pay for a regular broadband deal. No, it's not an effective way to dodge line rental
Virgin broadband without a phone line
So we're left with Virgin Media as the only widely available means of getting broadband without a home phone line/number/calling package. Problem is, you won't save much money taking this option, since the 'line rental' for the line your broadband comes in on is still subsumed within the price.
And when we say 'widely' available' we just mean that unlike Hyperoptic, say, it's available to most of the country. However, that's still only around 60%. Here's how to get it, if you can.
- Check if you can get it – You can use our Virgin Media postcode checker tool to find out if you can get it where you live. If you can you will be presented with a list of available Virgin Media broadband packages. If you can't, you will be presented with the alternatives that are available where you live. Bear in mind, though that if you're presented with the alternatives, none of these will be broadband without a phone line
- Compare speeds and packages – If you can get Virgin Media broadband, the page has an array of tools and filters to hone down what exactly you want or need. As here, there is also some good advice about Virgin Media broadband further down the page
- Click through and buy – Once you've found a deal that suits, click the button to be taken through to the deal on the Virgin Media website. Simple
Is mobile broadband an alternative?
No, not really. It's almost always going to be more limiting, less reliable, slower and more expensive than an equivalent fixed-line broadband deals. Still, mobile broadband or 4G home broadband is a good solution when you're somewhere that fixed-line broadband cannot reach in a satisfying way.
Frequently asked questions
Is landline-free broadband actually any cheaper?
Sometimes, but only a bit. Virgin Media is the only widely available provider that will allow you to have broadband without a telephone line, but you won't save any money as you'll still be paying line rental for the line that brings you your broadband. Kind of pointless, really.
Can I use 4G and/or 5G for home broadband?
Yes, you can. However, unless you're somewhere that traditional broadband struggles to reach, we wouldn't recommend it. Most 4G home broadband packages or mobile 4G broadband packages limit the data you can use, are more expensive and not as quick as their fixed line equivalents. 5G home broadband will be quicker than fixed-line broadband in most cases, but it is yet to be available outside of large city centres.
Won't satellite broadband offer me broadband without a phone line?
Yes, it will, but it's also super-expensive and slower than most fibre deals.
Can I get broadband without line rental?
Yes, with mobile broadband, satellite broadband or 4G/5G tethering, as described in greater detail above. You cannot get a fixed line ADSL or fibre broadband deal without paying line rental. Line rental is included in the advertised price these days so you won't necessarily know you're paying it, but you will be and it will be accounting for the lion's share of your monthly payments.
What's the difference between broadband without a line and a broadband-only deal?
Once upon a time, 'broadband-only' deal meant literally broadband without a phone line. Over the last few years, though, broadband providers have changed it to mean 'broadband with no calling packages'. So broadband with pay-as-you-go-calls, essentially. But you'll still need a phone line and you'll still be paying line rental.
Broadband without a phone line can take many forms, all outlined above.
Why do I have to have a landline in most cases?
Broadband can only get into your home three ways: Via a wire (called 'fixed-line', which accounts for your typical ADSL and fibre deals), via 4G or 5G mobile data (in the form of mobile broadband or 4G/5G tethering), or from space via a satellite dish. Fixed-line is the only reliable, cost-effective way to get broadband, and all fixed-line deals arrive via – you guessed it – a fixed line. It is this line you pay line rental for irrespective of whether you have a home phone or not.