Can I get broadband without line rental?
Can I get broadband without line rental?
Yes, in some areas it’s possible to get broadband without line rental, but it depends on whether a broadband-only deal is available in your area. It's also worth considering that a broadband-only deal could cost more than a combined broadband and landline package.
Why do people usually have to pay line rental to get broadband?
Line rental is the charge you have to pay for your phone line. In most cases, you need an active phone line to get standard ADSL broadband along copper phone wires, or fibre broadband into your home.
The reason most broadband services require line rental is that your broadband and phone share the same phone line. While fibre-optic broadband uses fibre cables to carry your signal to the street cabinet, the connection to your home is normally transferred over the standard Openreach copper phone lines which are used for ADSL broadband. Because of this, broadband providers bundle the two services together.
For most people this means using a network that’s owned and operated by Openreach, part of the BT group. They’re responsible for the phone cables, the street cabinets and the phone exchanges that your broadband service operates on.
However, there are providers who offer cable services, which allow you to bypass a standard phone line, which means you won’t need to pay line rental. Let's have a look at your options for broadband without line rental.
How much is line rental?
The price of line rental varies between broadband providers, but you should expect to pay somewhere between £12 and £20. Some providers offer a line rental saver, which lets you pay for a year up front and then have smaller bills each month. They usually come with a discount and mean you won’t be affected by line rental price increases during the year. However, they tend to be non-refundable if you switch. We make it easy to compare by including line rental costs in the prices we show you. So you don’t need to work out how much extra line rental will be.
What do I need to do to get broadband without line rental?
If you’re determined to avoid paying line rental, there are some limited options available to you:
- Fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband – FTTP is a specific full fibre broadband service. The most common type of fibre broadband works on a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) basis. This means that the fibre optic cables only reach your street cabinet, with the data transfer to your home being finished over the standard phone line used for an ADSL connection. If you’re using the standard phone line for part of your connection, you’d need to pay line rental. FTTP cable broadband services bypass the phone line by using fibre cabling all the way to your home. While this is usually the most expensive type of broadband available, it does offer the greatest speeds.
- Satellite broadband – satellite broadband is available anywhere and you won’t need a landline. However the cost might be more than paying for broadband with line rental, and coverage and speeds could be worse. To find out if you could get broadband for less than you’re currently paying and what your options are use our postcode checker.
- Mobile broadband (3G/4G/5G) – this is an option provided you live in an area with very good mobile phone reception. You’ll typically get a USB dongle to plug into your computer, or a special wireless box that just needs a power supply. Mobile connections tend to be slower than an ADSL or cable connections. We don’t currently offer comparisons between mobile broadband services.
Pros and cons of mobile broadband
- Access - may provide internet access in an otherwise inaccessible location
- Portability – mobile broadband is exactly that, allowing you to stay connected while out and about
- Flexibility – most mobile broadband deals offer monthly rolling plans, something that’s less common with standard broadband deals, which typically require a 12-month contract
- Price – mobile broadband can be more expensive than a standard ADSL or fibre broadband connection
- Speed – mobile broadband provides slower average speeds compared to fibre services, although this may change with the extended rollout of 5G
- Consistency – just like a mobile phone connection, a mobile broadband service can be less reliable than a cable service
- Limits – while most standard broadband deals in the UK offer unlimited data, mobile broadband often comes with data limits, which may restrict your usage
Is it cheaper to get broadband without line rental?
Not necessarily. Some people assume that broadband-only packages are cheaper because you don't have to worry about paying a service charge for your phone line, but this isn’t always true. This is because broadband services without line rental are on a special cable service that runs as fibre to the premises (FTTP), this is where the fibre cables run all the way to your home, rather than the street cabinet, with a standard copper phone line transferring your connection the rest of the way. These types of services usually offer the best speeds, but because of the work required to achieve them, they are often more expensive.
The best thing to do is to compare prices. You may find that a provider could be cheaper even with a phone line.
Do broadband prices include line rental costs?
Yes, since October 2016 it’s been compulsory for broadband providers to include line rental in their headline costs. And at comparethemarket.com as well as showing the monthly cost, we include an all-in 12-month total cost. This includes line rental, as well as other ‘extras’ such as activation fees and other equipment charges.
Hyperoptic specialise in a full fibre to the premises (FTTP) service. By operating their own cable network, Hyperoptic are able to offer broadband speeds of up to 900Mbps, without the need for a phone line. However, while Hyperoptic offer some of the fastest speeds in the country, they are less widely available, so it’s important you check the availability for your area.
Virgin Media are the only major ISP (internet service provider) who offer broadband without a phone line. This is because they operate their own cable network that’s independent of Openreach. Their DOCSIS® 3 fibre-optic technology is exclusive to Virgin Media, and can deliver average speeds of up to 362Mbps, which is the fastest widely available speed in the UK. However, this speed comes at a cost, with Virgin Media broadband usually being among the more expensive services.
They were also one of the first broadband providers to offer broadband, phone, TV and mobile in one package. This means you’re able to bundle all of your services together, offering convenience and potential discounts between packages.
O2 and Virgin Media merger
In May 2020, O2 and Virgin Media announced they were planning a merger, to become one of the largest telecom service providers in the UK. While this is still in the planning stage, customers of either provider should expect some level of change in the future. With over 32 million O2 customers in the UK, along Virgin Media delivering over 14 million broadband, video and phone services, both companies are set to expand their reach significantly, going toe-to-toe with the likes of BT.
With these two big brands merging, customers may see the benefits of services which were once exclusive to the other. For example, Virgin Media mobile customers didn’t have 5G support, but with O2 now a partner, it’s likely Virgin mobile customers won’t have too much longer to wait.
However, this is unlikely to take effect until 2021 at the earliest, and both providers will continue to operate individually in the meantime, with services remaining unaffected.
What bundles are available for broadband without a phone line?
Without a phone line, your options for broadband are more limited, this can make bundles even harder to come by. Virgin Media are the biggest broadband provider who don’t require a phone line. Virgin Media offer broadband, TV, phone and mobile, allowing you to bundle all of your major digital services together in one package.
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