Once upon a time there were quite a few companies competing for your business if all you wanted was a phone line without broadband. Not anymore.
With the majority of folk relying on their mobiles, landline usage has seen continued decline year on year. They remain important for many, however. And since you can't have a broadband connection without a physical line to connect it to your house, landlines have stayed relevant.
All broadband providers offer landlines. In fact, most insist on one. However, very, very few offer a landline on its own, without broadband. Just two, in fact. In this guide we'll talk about each, the differences, which is the better deal, and show you some alternatives should you decide a wider choice is more important than not taking out broadband.
Of the two, we're going to be talking about Post Office Home Phone first. Why? Because between the Post Office and BT, Post Office offers by far the better deal. Sorry BT, but you really do need to do better. At the time of writing, a basic Post Office Home Phone package with free weekend calls to UK landlines is just £15 per month: £13 for the line and an extra £2 for the weekend calling.
We're comparing the free weekend package here as BT doesn't do 'pay as you talk' (no free calling periods) packages at all these days. Post Office offers more calling packages than BT, adding and extra package in the form at pay as you talk at the cheap end, and another one – Anytime Plus – at the top end. Post Office's free weekend calls, free evening calls and free anytime calls are all self-explanatory. With Anytime Plus, you also get 1,000 minutes you can call UK mobile numbers. It'll cost you a bit more, though, and if you have a mobile phone with unlimited minutes, you're probably better off using that.
With Post Office Home Phone, you can also bolt on a variety of flexible extras, including Mobile Saver 100, which gives you 100 minutes to UK mobiles on top of whatever your current allowance, Mobile Saver 500 (do we really have to explain that one?), and International Saver, where you'll get unlimited calls to landlines in 40 predetermined countries, and 50% off calls to landlines in any other countries.
There's no set-up fee with Post Office Home Phone, provided you already have a physical, working line installed at the property. If you don't already have a phone line, Post Office will charge you £60 up front for the installation. While this figure may seem rather unappealing, consider for a moment that if you opted for BT instead, it would charge you £140 for the same job.
There are also a few extras, which will each add a small amount to your monthly payments, should you so desire them. These are: Standard Voicemail, Voicemail Plus, and Incoming Call Alert (call waiting). All of which you will get for free with any mobile phone. Now wonder landlines are disappearing, eh? No matter. They are there if you need them, and you're willing to pay for them.
Like any other provider, Post Office will want to sell you broadband too, but if you truly don't want it, it remains the best of only two providers still offering it. The other is BT.
Let's not beat about the bush on this; unless you qualify for BT's loss-leading BT Basic service (criteria further down the page), a BT landline, on its own, is going to cost you more with BT than it is with Post Office. And since one reason you might be thinking of foregoing broadband would be to keep your connection to the outside world as cheap as possible, BT landlines simply fail in this respect.
In fact, a BT landline on its own, at the time of writing, will set you back at least £19.99 per month. BT doesn't offer a pay as you talk option like Post Office, so that's for the free weekend calls option that constitutes BT's minimum service level. And if that sounds like a reasonable cost, bear in mind there are packages out there from other providers that offer not only a phone line, but also fibre broadband for similar money.
There are only three package levels with a BT landline compared to Post Office's five. Free weekends, free evenings and weekends and free anytime calls are your bog-standard options, which you'll also find available across literally any other provider who also insists on broadband. So, is there anything about a BT landline that makes it worthwhile to pay more?
You'll have to be the judge of that. With all BT landline packages, you will get free nuisance call protection in the form of BT Call Protect. The way this works is BT keeps its own nuisance call blacklist, and will block any numbers calling you from any number on that list. In addition, you can create your own personal blacklist, by simply dialling 1572 after hanging up on a nuisance caller. It will also send calls from specific categories such as number withheld or international numbers straight to your voicemail, should you choose.
BT's only concession to calling mobiles in terms of your calling allowances is 1,000 minutes per month specifically to BT Mobile mobiles. Quite stingy and quite useless, unless your friends and family are all diehard BT customers. You can also add 'International Freedom' to your package, which extends your free calling allowance to foreign landlines in 36 countries. It's more expensive, and applies to fewer countries, than Post Office's International Saver add-on.
BT Basic is un ultra-cheap way to have a landline in your house, provided you are in one of the following low-income groups: You receive income support; income-based jobseeker's allowance; pensions credit; employment and support allowance; universal credit. If you're on benefits, basically.
Monthly line rental on BT Basic costs £5.10 a month at the time of writing. And while it's pay as you talk, you will get £1.50 worth of calling for free each month. There's also a strict spending cap, meaning you can't spend more than £15.10 in any given month. At that point, outgoing calls will simply be blocked.
BT Basic is something telecoms regulator Ofcom is forcing BT to do as part of its universal service agreement. And the terms of BT Basic very much make it appear as if it is doing so through gritted teeth.
If you cave in and decide that, all things considered, you might be willing to have broadband after all, your choices expand dramatically. Apart from having only two choices of provider, it's worth bearing in mind that you won't be paying much more (less in some cases) to get a package from someone else that also includes broadband. So you've got to really not want it for some specific reason. If you do change your mind, these are the providers you may wish to consider.
It's Post Office Home Phone, without a doubt. There are only two providers in the UK willing to offer landline-only deals, and the other is BT, which is substantially more expensive.
With Post Office Home Phone, you can have a fully functioning landline for as little as £13 per month. If you are willing to give up paper billing, that drops by a further £1.50. BT Basic is cheaper, but only available to people on government benefits.
There is such a limited market in 2019 for landline-only packages – so few households that don't want broadband – that there's simply not room in the market beyond a couple of providers who specialise.
Yes. But only from two widely available providers: BT and Post Office.
At the time of writing, it was £19.99, though BT has a habit of putting this cost up annually. If you're reading this more that 12 months from October 2019, chances are it's gone up again.
It's £5.10 per month, and within that you get £1.50 in free calling. However, you will need to be living off benefits in order to qualify.