Do I need a landline for broadband?

Claire Nottage | February 5th, 2024

Old telephone landline

Historically, the only way to have a broadband connection in your home was via your phone line, which required the additional payment of line rental. Although line rental is now bundled up in the price of broadband, most providers now offer broadband without a phone line (also known as 'broadband only'), meaning you don’t actually need to have a landline to get broadband any more.

Due to the fact that most people now tend to use their mobile phone to make calls – even when they are at home – the landline is slowly falling into disuse. As a result, there is an ever-increasing demand for broadband packages that don’t require a phone line. However, there are some arguments for keeping your home phone, even if you don’t use it very much.

Do you need a landline?

In technical terms, no, there is no longer the need to have a landline in order to have a broadband connection, although some providers – namely those not offering so-called 'Full Fibre' broadband – still require this, depending on the package you choose. But before you order your broadband-only package and abandon your home phone completely, take a look at why you might want to consider keeping your landline.

Reasons to keep your landline

  • Making calls – The main reason for having a landline is obvious – if you still like to make calls from it. Some people just don’t like using their mobile to make calls, and if that’s you, then keep your landline
  • Receiving calls – If you prefer not to give out your mobile number to everybody, you may still want to give them your landline number
  • Personal alarms – If you have any special care services or personal alarms that use your landline, you should keep it, as these services will no longer work without it
  • Emergency use – You like having the landline for emergencies, whether that is simply as a back-up in case of a power cut, or for calling 999
  • Keep your number – Once you have committed to a new package without a landline, you won’t be able to get your home phone number back again if you later decide you want a landline again – you will be allocated a new one
  • Broadband only is not always cheaper – This may seem odd but choosing a broadband only package may not actually save you any money – in the case of Virgin Media, it will actually cost more

Reasons to choose broadband only

  • Old phone lines will be switched off by 2025 – Openreach and Virgin Media are in the process of switching off all the old phone lines. This means that soon the default option when buying a broadband package will be to have it without a phone line, so you could argue that you might as well go broadband only sooner rather than later
  • Save money – Although some providers actually charge more for their broadband only deals, most don’t, and so although you won’t save on line rental, you will save by not making any calls
  • Keep your number with pay-as-you-go – If you choose a package that comes with just pay-as-you-go calls, you can keep your calling options open and if you find you do still need your landline number
  • Use VoIP for free calls – If you still like the idea of a home phone, you can get a VoIP phone which will use your wifi to allow you to make free calls from home

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Types of broadband-only packages

For the time being, there are two different types of broadband only deals, which it’s worth knowing about before you select a new package.

True broadband only

A number of providers now offer true-broadband only, including BT, Shell, Plusnet, Onestream and Virgin Media. Due to the fact that it runs on its own network of cables, Virgin Media was the first UK provider able to offer true broadband only deals. These packages come with no functioning landline at all – just a very fast broadband connection.

All ultrafast, full fibre broadband services are available in broadband only form, since this type of connection does not use the copper telephone wires to reach your home. Providers that offer full fibre broadband include BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and EE.

Broadband with no landline

Broadband only with pay as you go calls

Several providers advertise broadband only deals that are in fact broadband and phone packages but with pay-as-you-go calls only. In other words, you will have a functioning landline, but you will pay for every call that you make – there are no inclusive calls. On the upside, this does mean you can use your landline in an emergency, and you can still receive calls without being charged.

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Providers that offer broadband only

Almost all providers now offer a form of broadband only deals, either with a functioning landline but no inclusive calls, or without a functioning landline (known as true broadband only). Here is a quick rundown of what sort of broadband only deals the major providers offer:

Provider Broadband Landline Calls
Virgin Media True broadband only No landline No calls
BT True broadband only No landline No calls
Shell Energy True broadband only No landline No calls
Onestream True broadband only No landline No calls
Sky True broadband only Inclusive landline PAYG calls
EE True broadband only Inclusive landline PAYG calls
Vodafone True broadband only Inclusive landline PAYG calls
Plusnet True broadband only No landline (except ADSL) No calls (except ADSL)
TalkTalk True broadband only Inclusive landline PAYG calls
NOW Broadband only Inclusive landline PAYG calls

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Availability: can I get broadband only?

With almost all providers now thankfully offering true broadband only deals (without a functioning landline), there is every chance that you should be able to get broadband only where you are. To find out what is available in your area, use our postcode checker below.

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See also

Frequently asked questions

Is it cheaper to get broadband only?

This depends on the provider you choose. In some cases, choosing a broadband only deal will be cheaper than its comparable broadband phone deal simply because you won’t be making any calls, but in some cases (such as Virgin Media), it is actually more expensive.

Do I still need a landline?

Technically you don’t need a landline in order to have a broadband service. If you never use it then it’s worth considering going broadband only, but remember that you won’t be able to use your landline at all, even for emergencies, if you choose to go without.

Can I get rid of my landline mid-contract?

If you have signed a contract that includes a landline, it is unlikely you will be able to cancel it mid-contract without being charged.

Can I keep my phone number if I go broadband only?

No, once you have made the decision to have a broadband service without a phone line you will lose your phone number and won’t be able to get it back if you decide you want a landline again in future.