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What’s the best alternative to a BT landline?

By Richard Murphy
Monday, April 4th 2016

Does the crackly reception make you sound like you’re calling from the bottom of the ocean? Do BT's customer services feel like speaking to a brick wall? Is your landline simply no longer of any use?

Whatever your reason for wanting rid, there’s more than one way to avoid making use of your BT phone line while still being able to get on with your life in standard fashion.

Best alternative: Virgin Media

If you’re absolutely fed up with BT and want to take your landline elsewhere, Virgin is the place to go.

Virgin has four phone packages to choose from. They range from M Talk Weekends, which gives you unlimited calls to UK landlines on the weekend, all the way up to XXL Talk Unlimited Extra, which lets you make unlimited calls to pretty much anyone, at pretty much any time.

Virgin Media has its own network

Virgin Media has its own cable network which it uses to supply its customers with fibre optic broadband, TV and phone. If you want a phone line in your house, and you’ve had it up to the eyeballs with BT, this is the easiest way to wash your hands of them for good.

It's available to around 50% of the UK

Virgin’s network is not as wide reaching as BT’s, so you need to check whether you can get it where you live first. You can do this with our Virgin Media comparison page, or from Virgin Media’s website. BT’s network reaches almost all of the UK, while Virgin’s is only around 44% of UK properties.

All other providers use BT

Aside from Virgin Media, every other landline provider uses BT’s network of phone cables. If you have beef with BT, you should still consider these providers as alternative options.

Know, though, that if you sign up with any of them, some of you monthly bill will find its way to BT, albeit indirectly.

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • EE
  • Plusnet
  • Fuel broadband
  • Direct Save Telecom
  • Tesco Broadband
  • John Lewis Broadband
  • Post Office
  • SSE

Cancel your landline and use your mobile instead

If you don't subscribe to a broadband service that requires a BT landline (such as those listed above) you should think about whether you even need a landline at all. Most mobile phones plans come with a set amount of free calls, and not having a landline would cut out all those annoying sales calls and phone scams.

Unlimited minute deals are available to heavy users

Have a look at your most recent landline bill and ask whether those calls could have been made on your mobile using your talk time allowance. If not, you can upgrade your current plan to one with a larger, or even unlimited, call allowance.

If this sounds expensive, remember you’ll be saving money on line rental and a call plan (about £17 per month), so it may still work out cheaper.

Some mobile providers offer free wi-fi calling

Wi-fi calling is when you use a wi-fi connection to make phone calls from your mobile. This can be any wi-fi connection, including the one in your home, which means you’ll need a home broadband connection to use it.

This is ideal if you live in an area with poor mobile coverage and rely on your landline to call out. Isn’t technology wonderful?

EE has already launched wi-fi calling on its network, with Vodafone quickly following suit. Wi-fi calling with EE still eats into your calling allowance, and it differs from app-based wi-fi calling services because it’s integrated into you phone’s calling function. This means there’s no extra apps or downloads to worry about.

Also, some smartphone apps let you call for free

If you’re not with EE, there are other apps that let you make calls through a wi-fi connection like Facebook Messenger and Viber. Calling over these apps is free, but it’s not available on all handsets.

Depending on which app you use, calls to other users are free, but there’s a charge attached to calling other numbers, including other landlines.

Use a VoIP services like Skype

It’s free, but you need an internet connection

Calls can be made using a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service like Skype or Vonage. These use an internet connection to call other users for free or, with an added charge, landlines and non users.

You can make these through your laptop, desktop or tablet computer as long as they’re connected to the internet. If you’re more of a traditionalist, you can buy a Skype phone, which is just like a cordless home phone that connects to your broadband connection to make and receive calls.

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