In an age of encrypted social media chats and free VoIP internet calls, millions of people across the UK have a fine layer of dust forming on top of their house phones.
Once an essential link to the outside world, landlines seem increasingly irrelevant when mobile providers give us more monthly talk time than we tend to use.
Many people have retained a landline purely for broadband connectivity, yet fees for a standard ADSL line may be nudging £20 a month.
That’s especially ironic for Virgin Media customers, who enjoy some of the UK’s fastest broadband connections through a separate network of cables.
All of which poses a question: is it possible to enjoy broadband without a landline?
Ways to acquire line-free broadband
There are several ways to stay connected in absentia of an ADSL phone line.
We’ve summarised them below, alongside the key pros and cons of each option:
Because Virgin’s internet connections rely on a proprietary network of subterranean fibre cabling, landlines are irrelevant.
That’s great news for owners of pre-cabled new homes, or anyone suspicious of Openreach – bear in mind the public can’t directly contact the UK’s leading infrastructure installer.
Virgin’s broadband speeds are often faster than anything available over a phone line, and one-month rolling contracts are offered alongside standard 12-month agreements.
Pros: Usually the fastest broadband speeds, supplied with a decent TV service, now obtainable by 60 per cent of UK residents.
Cons: Packages may be expensive, landlines tend to be bundled in anyway, customer service isn’t a strong suit.
The most popular method of acquiring line-free broadband involves buying a mobile dongle from one of the UK’s Big Four mobile networks.
These dongles use 4G signals to power either a standalone device, or to create a modest WiFi hub from a compact router.
Plug-in USB dongles usually self-install on a wide variety of computers, while the wireless hub option is effectively a line-free broadband router.
Pros: Portable and flexible, available on annual or rolling one-month contracts, automatically drop onto 3G if 4G signals are weak.
Cons: Expensive if you exceed your monthly data allowance, performance fluctuates constantly, 3G speeds are inadequate for most of today’s online content.
Some remote parts of the UK don’t have access to landlines, let alone Virgin Media.
Installing a satellite dish cuts out the middleman, beaming broadband signals directly to your home.
A variety of subscription packages are typically offered, though data limits are the norm.
Pros: Great in remote areas, fairly reliable, isn’t thwarted by nearby hills or forests
Cons: Very expensive, unimpressive transfer speeds, may involve monthly data limits.
Each option has unique advantages, but some won’t be available to certain sections of the population.
For instance, residents of Hull can’t get Virgin Media because of KCOM’s monopoly on local connectivity. Even so, KCOM’s broadband services are decent – if pricey.
Satellite broadband requires a dish being installed, while 4G signal strength is patchy outside major conurbations.
Research each option to see which one represents the best line-free broadband solution for you.