When making a phone call these days most people reach for their mobile phone, with many home phones becoming practically redundant. However, a lot of consumers still have a landline – and pay the charges associated with it – mainly in order to get online through a broadband connection.
But with the cost of line rental increasing are we really getting value for money? According to a study carried out by broadbandchoices.co.uk, line rental charges have increased by 38% since 2009, a figure that is worryingly almost three times the rate of inflation.
The main providers are now charging an average of £15.35 a month compared to £11.14 in 2009, meaning households are needing to find an additional £50 a year to cover line rental costs.
Hikes in prices are hard enough to take for services that we use regularly, but when we are forking out for something that we rarely benefit from, the sting seems even sharper. In fact, although broadband has improved over the years, the phone service offered by a fixed line has seen little improvements to justify the added charges.
And it seems consumers are waking up to the fact that they are paying money for nothing with over a third of those questioned feeling that line rental is poor value for money, and one in five calling it an excuse for providers to charge more.
With 36% of people making a call from their mobile phone on a daily basis compared to just 22% from their landline it's no wonder people are thinking about the viability of paying for a phone line - in fact, one in ten say they don't even have their home phone plugged in!
It seems that a broadband connection is the only sticking point when it comes to the need for a landline as data usage is still relatively expensive on a mobile phone with many packages having tight limits. When mobile broadband costs become more reasonable the line rental/fixed-line broadband popularity may wane even further and this is backed up by 37% of those questioned saying they would get rid of their landline altogether if they could get broadband without it – up from 32% in 2012.
Dominic Baliszewski, spokesperson for broadbandchoices.co.uk, explains: "Most of us are accustomed to price rises, but line rental is really suffering from an image crisis at the moment. People are, quite rightly, questioning why they are being asked for more money time and time again with no real clarity over what they're getting in return for the extra spend.
"An increase of 38% over less than five years is significant, massively outstripping inflation and also coming at a time when people are already feeling the pinch. The situation is not helped when the status quo is for providers to charge one price for line rental and a separate additional fee for broadband on top - this gives the impression line rental is only for home phone, when in fact it's essential for broadband in most cases. It's unnecessarily confusing."
So what can you do to cut down on line rental costs? Well, the very first step is to consider what you use your fixed line for and whether you really need it. If you always use your mobile to make calls and only go online occasionally for light internet use then chances are you could manage with a 3G or 4G mobile phone connection. If you are able to get it, 4G can be faster that a home phone connection, but always remember if you are data hungry you will pay a lot more.
If, however, you do use your broadband connection heavily, perhaps for streaming services or downloading lots of music and films, then you will probably need to go through one of the major providers. Make sure to do your research into packages and compare deals, including line rental costs, and when you do pay your bills consider (if you can afford it) paying in one instalment rather than monthly, as this can save you up to 40%.
The main aim is to ensure you are getting value for money – no one wants to be paying out for a service that they don't use - so consider your options carefully and choose the deal that best suits your individual needs.
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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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