If you are confused by landline phone packages in the UK you are not alone. You may be surpried to know that there are 33.2 million landlines in the UK (end of 2015 - source Ofcom), the vast majority are made of copper wire and despite what some reports claim copper landlines are doing well and are unlikley to be relegated to history as clever experts find more and more ways to use them and allow them to compete with fiber optic (cable) and carry both voice and increasing amounts of internet data.
This brief guide will allow you, relatively quickly, get to the point where you have a few questions to get quotes from Phone Providers specifically for options that you will use.
Within a few minutes of reading this brief guide you will know a little more about landlines, be able to choose what you need, be ready to get quotes you can compare and get a good deal without wasting your time on comparision websites for hours on end; or contacting phone suppliers un-preparred and unable to know if what you are being sold is really what you need.
If you know what you need you can ask for it and avoid wasting your money on stuff you do not need.
This webpage is focussed on landlines, if it is popular enough I'll try to find some time to create a webpage for Landline and Broadband packages.
Companies that still provide landline only packages
The number of companies that still provide landline only as an option is quite limited and eventually landline only will eventually disappear completely over time because combined Broadband and Phone are the most popular options and are where more types of packages can be provided.
Following are the current companies still providing landline only services (as at October 2016):
Direct Save Telecom
Note: Vonage is more known as a Voice Over IP (VOIP) provider. I won't go into detail of VOIP, suffice to say that it is phone services mainly utilising the same networks that make up the Internet to provide low cost calling.
What is Line Rental and why do I pay for it?
Line Rental is the monthly charge you pay to the provider of your telephone line. This charge is itemised in bills by some phone providers and not by other providers, which makes the whole situation quite confusing; if all providers had to itemise this on the bill it would avoid a lot of confusion and misinformation. Basically if you have a land line you will be paying line rental. One thing to understand is that 'you do not own the cables that go from outside your home to the telephone exchange', which is the place where they connect to other lines for you to make and receive calls, you are 'renting the line', hence the name line rental. The company that maintains this massive part of the phone infrastructure, all connections from all houses in the UK to all their local Exchanges, in the UK is British Telecom (BT). So if you have a fixed line, also knowns as a land line your phone provider will be buying the line rental service from BT and paying BT for it. There is nothing unusual or odd about this, occasionally some phone provider will question the charges that BT makes but these are controlled to make sure that BT doesn't obtain unfair advantage on it's competitors. Bottom line is: "you have to pay Line Rental if you have a Land Line phone" and even if you don't see it itemised on your bill you are still paying for it, it's just that your phone provider has "Bundled the Charge" into other costs they are charging you.
Why is it so complicated?
Phone companies competes in a tough market with relatively small margins on the basic phone call service when you factor in running costs, dividends for investors, staff wages, advertising etc. For this reason all phone companies have entered into the more lucrative broadband and multimedia business. The only way for companies to increase their profits is to encourage customers to buy more services hence the focus of all providers on Packages, where they add options like Peak Time Calling, International Dialling, Broadband, TV Channels and to make the choice even more confusing they start to add in options where you pay a lower amount up front and then your cost goes up after generally 6 months or 12 months. The reason for why companies focus a lot of effort on packages, is to try and stand out in a crowded market, they will combine a number of different options that marketing departments feel will be most appealing to the greatest number of customers. The enticing bit is often the initial low cost provided for a few months or some specific combimation of options in the package. By the time you have to compare all the options that the various providers throw in to their packages it becomes near impossible to work out what is really a good deal and most frustrating of all is the impossibility of really work out how much it will all cost.
What about access for all?
The excessive focus on the Packages has created a ridiculous state of affairs where there are so many different options being offered to consumers that it's made all pretty much inaccessible with ever more complex websites design trying to explain more and more complex information. Increasing numbers of customers that don't have easy access to technology or someone that can help them make the best choice for them? It would be nice if all suppliers made use of the Plain English Campaign and make their websites much more accessible. Would be nice, but somehow don't think this will happen unless legislation is passed one day on usability and accessibility to information with some large scale fines being delivered to non compliant companies. Probably the group that is discriminated against the most are the elderly. But all people that cannot spare days to work out the best deal can just hope to get a reasonable comparison by the over growing number of comparisin websites. Now we have reached the point where even the comparison websites, that are supposed to help us pick a good option, are unable to keep up with the options in the ever growing number of packages. Copyright 2016 Mark Cotugno. All Rights Reserved. Beta version 1.1