Landline use in decline

Landline use seems to be in decline. When I got into the office this morning I called home. I’d lost a tie and thought I might have dropped it on our drive.

When I want to call someone my usual way is to go to the logs on my phone and click on the relevant number/name. As often as not the person I want to talk to is high up on the list of recent calls – wife, kids, stockbroker, shrink (etc).

I called my wife’s mobile. She didn’t answer. So I called “Home”. I had to scroll a very long way down the list of logs to find Home. In fact I last called Home at 20.08 on the 1st November. 70 calls or text messages down the list. Anne answered the Home phone and you will be happy to know that she found the tie, a very smart blue bow tie, and has it safe in the house.My point is that we are using our landline less and less. Typically for calls to grandparents. I’ve even taken to answering the home phone by saying “Newport Arch Chinese Restaurant” as quite often its a scammer on the other end of the line.

Everyone in our house has a mobile phone. All the adults are on all you can eat plans and it makes no different whether we use the fixed or mobile phone. Nobody rings me on the Home phone. The kids rarely use their phone for voice calls. They either text their friends or they use it to access the internet for Facebook Messaging. The youngest often goes online on the XBox if he needs to chat to a friend!

I’d like to bet that for a large proportion of the population the landline number is hardly used at all and is effectively only there because you need a landline to get Broadband.

There have occasionally been calls for BT (Openreach) to provide data only lines, known as “naked DSL” without the costs and overhead of the voice service. BT has always pushed back on this, saying there is no demand and that the costs would not be greatly reduced.

It would be interesting to see how many households don’t use their landline at all. My bet is that millions of us would put our hands up and voluntarily relinquish possession of our old fashioned phone. It might be worth having the debate…

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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15 Comments

  1. For those of us (only 15 miles from central London) who have iffy mobile reception at home a land line is still useful. My parents are proper rural and they have no mobile signal at all so for many it’s still useful.

  2. try and fill in a bank mortgage application, or credit card application of even an application for a mobile phone contract WITHOUT having a fixed line number–you can’t! A fixed line number if obligatory for almost all credit requests, ecommerce etc. Yes antiquated, but that is life in the UK.
    On the other hand, in the Netherlands, they don’t require you to provide a landline number–in most cases, they prefer a mobile!
    I can talk to you about the lobbying that I have been involved in regarding Naked DSL 🙂
    It’s about time that OFCOM and the European Commission mandated naked DSL.

  3. I fall into the category of living only 15 minutes train ride from Victoria, but having iffy mobile reception, so do make use of the landline, usually when talking with technophobe parents who don’t/won’t call mobiles because it’s “expensive”.

    Naked DSL becomes increasingly relevant in deployments such as FTTC, where there’s no need for a copper pair back to the Exchange.

    In a similar vein to the requirement for some things still requiring a fixed line, there are still organisations that have processes which require things to be *faxed* to them – and scanning and emailing them a .pdf simply won’t do, they want it faxed.

  4. We have a landline phone on the wall near the front door. From an early age, and throughout all of my experiments with VoIP, Asterisk PBX, etc. the kids have been taught to use it for emergency calls. Day-to-day, the analogue line is hardly ever used. The number is held by close family, kids’ schools etc. so if it does ring, we assume that it’s important – which makes spam calls even more irritating. We also have one remaining VoIP number which is given out to (for example) any company from whom we place an order for delivery, the bank, etc.

    When I worked in the mobile industry I argued in favour of compulsory registration of an account holder address for mobile pay-as-you-go customers; these days, as an emergency service dispatcher, I wish I’d been successful. You’d be surprised how many times we encounter something along the lines of ‘never mind where I am, just send me an ambulance’ when the call originates from a completely anonymous mobile number.

    Back on topic, I’d probably use our landline more often… if only I could remember the number. Would I give it up in exchange for a discount? Now that the kids are old enough to reliably quote their address, yes. Previously, probably not.

  5. We have a landline phone on the wall near the front door. From an early age, and throughout all of my experiments with VoIP, Asterisk PBX, etc. the kids have been taught to use it for emergency calls. Day-to-day, the analogue line is hardly ever used. The number is held by close family, kids’ schools etc. so if it does ring, we assume that it’s important – which makes spam calls even more irritating. We also have one remaining VoIP number which is given out to (for example) any company from whom we place an order for delivery, the bank, etc.

    When I worked in the mobile industry I argued in favour of compulsory registration of an account holder address for mobile pay-as-you-go customers; these days, as an emergency service dispatcher, I wish I’d been successful. You’d be surprised how many times we encounter something along the lines of ‘never mind where I am, just send me an ambulance’ when the call originates from a completely anonymous mobile number.

    Back on topic, I’d probably use our landline more often… if only I could remember the number. Would I give it up in exchange for a discount? Now that the kids are old enough to reliably quote their address, yes. Previously, probably not.

  6. I often call people’s landlines rather than mobiles. My mobile signal is rubbish at home so I use our landline to dial out, and the landline tariff is only free for calls to landlines so I’d have to pay extra to call a mobile. If I need to call a mobile I’ll try and find the spot in the house which is best for my appalling mobile signal rather than incur extra costs on the landline bill!

  7. I got rid of my landline around two years ago, and I don’t miss it at all.

    In the past I only had a fixed line due to needing it for web access, but having now moved to a cable area it was entirely redundant in my mind.

  8. Sadly we need a land-line as we only get DSL in our area – we never use it unless forced to as unlimited minutes on a mobile phone makes it easier. Certainly when calling home to speak with my wife – i know i have a better chance of reaching her via her mobile. The only calls we get via our land-line are now PPI/sales calls or those recorded messages or the mother-in-law (which is worst than the cold calls!) If we have FTTC/fiber in the area we would not have a land-line.

    BE.

  9. Its surprising how many people say they have “poor mobile reception” who have never tried another network. I’ve just been switched (by work) to a network which is vastly inferior in my area, and I can now see why many people think 3G is a joke. (It was great on my former provider).

    The corporate procurement departments signing exclusive contracts to get best price is completely screwing up the idea of competition. If I was self employed I could use any network and then could pick the best for the area I need it to operate. My geographical circle of need is generally 50-60 miles across.

  10. The other stupidity is the cable firms who charge you MORE for broadband when you don’t take a landline number. Assuming you will make calls they can profit from I guess; but not normally true.

  11. Sometimes when people are struggling to get decent (usually proprietary) VoIP connections running over shared packet-switched networks I do feel the need to point out there is actually a rather reliable solution for voice communications designed for the job in the form of the circuit-switched plain old telephone service that Just Works!

  12. I’ve been pondering whether we need our landline. (Internet is FTTP so we arguably don’t need BT copper pairs at all.) For now, the answer remains yes. Having Sky multi room requires having both boxes connected to a telephone line. We do have some elderly relatives who don’t have mobiles so for them calling a mobile would be expensive.

    For outbound calls, BT’s inclusive call package for calls to other landlines is cheaper than VoIP. Yes many of those calls could use mobiles but the landline is more reliable – I blame the trees.

    The biggest problem is finding the DECT handsets. They always seem to end up in the kitchen or utility room. Why can’t they be put back where they were picked up from?

  13. We’re on community wifi, no adsl round here. Several of us use vonage, which is only £5.99 a month for unlimited calls, so it works out much cheaper than having a landline. We also struggle with mobile reception so a ‘landline’ number even if its through voip is still needed until we get femtocells. One good thing about voip is that the call is redirected to a mobile for free if you are out and about where there is a signal.

  14. Interesting blog …

    Thinking about it, my whole family including my Gran has a mobile. I only use our landline if I need to make 0800/0845 calls to utility/banks/insurance companies since calls to them will be expensive if used on my mobile!

    I was intrigued to hear about Virgin Media launching SmartCall app which allows you to use your landline mins/allowance from your mobile phone, but only in a wifi area. A rival to Skype but an interesting concept …

  15. We have two lines coming in and one only exists to support ADSL.

    The other is there to faciliate connection of a monitored intruder/fire alarm system as members of the household come and go at various times of day and alarms round here are just ignored, but yes everyone has a mobile and except for calls to banks and so on the line is never used.

    I can technically get FTTP but all the service providers I’ve spoken to won’t let me do away with the ADSL landline as they want to use it as a backup circuit (or BT won’t let them do this) so that pushes the cost beyond what I am willing to pay.

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