Choose a landline phone package in the UK

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):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 CampaignGo to 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.

Choosing your package

Following are a set of questions that will help you choose the most appropriate options to include in your package.

When will you make your phone calls?

I will make phone calls during the daytime and/or eveningReasons to include this option: If you are at home at least 4 hours of the day between the hours of 6am to 7pm you want to add this option to your package. This stops you from worrying about making calls at peak times. If you are an older or infirm person you want to add this option to your package. A lot of people will need this type of option for eaxmple if you are home bound or an elderly person you may want to call fiends and family during the day to hear a friendly voice or you may need to make appointments with your General Practitioner (GP), hospitals, contact the chemist, most of these types of calls need to be done during the day and cannot wait until the evening.
I will make all my calls at the weekend onlyReasons to include this option: This is only useful for people that are away from home for most of all of the day Monday to Friday but are at home at the weekends. This generally excludes families where at least one person may be at home at least for part of the day. This generaly also excludes pensioners and the elderly or infirm.
I will make all my calls at the weekend or evening only during the weekReasons to include this option: This is only useful for people that are away from home for most of the day Monday to Friday but are back at home at the evening and want to have a lower rate from 7pm to 7am. This generally excludes families where at least one person may be at home at least for part of the day. This generaly also excludes pensioners and the elderly or infirm.

Who will you call?

I will make calls to mobile phonesReasons to include this option: Most young and not so young people have mobile phones now days. It is important especially for older people to include this in their packages. You do not want to be worried about a big telephone bill if for a reason or another you need to make a call to a mobile phone.
I will make calls to friends and family abroadReasons to include this option: If you have friends and/or members of your family in other countries it is worth adding this to your package otherwise you will be worrying each time you make a call to them. You can buy pre-paid cards that allow you to call a number then enter a code and then get a connection to a distant relative or friend, but this can be a pain to keep up to date and is not always practical or cost effective; and if by accident you run over your quota on your pre-paid card, without realising it, you will pay a very high rate per minute. It is better to include this option in your package because it is nice to be able to stay in touch with friends and relatives abroad. If you are advising an older relative suggest to them to take this type of option and encourage them to stay in touch regularly with family; talking to people you know keeps your mind young.

Can I pay Line Rental up-front and save some money?

I want to pay for Line Rental up-front to save some money if possibleReasons to include this option: Some phone suppliers allow you to pay up-front for line rental and reduce the cost in some of their packages. Whether paying up-front saves money compared to another provider it very much depends, so just because a provider allows you to pay up-front it may still not be the best phone provider to choose. Paying up-front may not be a feasible option for everyone,basically you will need to pay generally 12 months of the "Line Rental", but can save some money with some providers.

What about Premium Rate numbers?

I want to reduce costs to calls of some Premium Rate numbersReasons to include this option: For some reason high rate numbers are used by companies that shouldn't because often they are already charging their customers thorough services they provide, unfortunatly there is no regulation to get them to stop this practice. Premium rate phone numbers are those that start with 0870, 0845 and 0800, for example. Premium Rate numbers are rarely included in a phone tariff's 'free minutes' allocation, and can increase your phone bills substantially. Instead of dialling Premium Lines, you can try to visit the SayNoTo0870.comGo to website to find alternative numbers for many well-known companies.
Note that alernatives to Premium Lines listed on the website are supplemented by data provided by users of the website and although efforts are made to keep the data current and correct it may not always be 100% reliable.

Can I reduce my mobile phone bill?

Include your mobile phone and/or mobile phones of all your family, on the phone packageReasons to include this option: If you and/or members of you family, have a mobile phone. Most phone providers allow you to include your mobile phone into the "Land Line Phone Package" so they can, at a generally better rate than a separate mobile contract, provide the service to you. This may not turn out to be cheaper if you have a mobile phone only for emergency or are a very low user of mobile phone. In this cases keeping your mobile on a pay-as-you-go contract or a basic contract will be cheaper. Again at the end of the day the phone company is a profit making business so will be more interested in higher usage mobile phones where they can provide more lucrative data and texts together with voice services.


Include Voicemail in your phone packageReasons to include this option: Voicemail allows people that call you to leave a recorded message so that you can pick them up by dialling 1571.
Include Call Barring in your phone packageReasons to include this option: Call Barring allows you to restrict the type of calls made from your landline. This means you can put a stop on calls to international numbers or premium rate lines to ensure that you stay in control of your phone bill. Again, this is likely to incur a monthly charge but it may be worth the extra cost if you have children who like to use the phone.
Include Call Diversion in your phone packageReasons to include this option: Call Diversion works by automatically transferring incoming calls to another landline or mobile phone. Essentially this means that you can receive your incoming home telephone calls on the move by getting them diverted to your mobile. This feature is unlikely to be included as a standard landline phone service, so you will need to weigh up the cost with how useful you would find the service.
Include Caller Display in your phone packageReasons to include this option: Caller Display allows you to know who is calling before you pick up the call. If you add this extra to your call package then your phone will display the mobile or landline number when you receive a call (providing it has a screen to do so). Caller display does cost extra on certain talk plans but some providers included it as an added extra free of charge so double check when you're comparing your options.
Include Ring Back in your phone packageReasons to include this option: Ring Back works by auto-dialling a number that you've previously tried to call once the number is no longer engaged. Most providers charge extra for this feature and this can either be a fee every time you use the service, or a fixed monthly fee so you need to check before you commit.

Copyright 2016 Mark Cotugno. All Rights Reserved.
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