The End Of Landlines?

Down with landlines! I hope it can’t be far off.

Recently, I’ve been looking a lot at Skype, for a variety of reasons. Sooner or later, I’m going to be moving house, and wherever I end up, I don’t want to have a landline installed. I didn’t want to have one installed where I currently am, but because Virgin Media don’t cover my street, BT forced me to.

It irritates the hell out of me when I see adverts on the TV for using your landline, because it’s so convenient, or whatever. How is it any more convenient than using my mobile?

BT have got so desperate, that built into the package I’m on, is a fine. If I don’t make at least 10 calls per month on my landline, they bill me a £6.80 fine. An inactivity fine, or “minimum calls fee” as BT call it. If I use it less, I have to pay more.

I’d estimate most people don’t want/need a landline now.

Every time you buy a mobile phone these days, they bundle hundreds and hundreds of minutes of calls. And if you’re not into calling, almost every mobile phone contract seems to come with “unlimited” (subject to fair use) texting. With Blackberry BBM and the iPhone’s iMessage, that amount is now truly limited only by the availability of your WiFi connection, and their servers (Blackberry have had a bad few days lately, and only about 50% of my messages sent through iMessage are working – with the others, the phone gives up and sends it by normal SMS).

Virgin Media now offer a 10mb package for £21 a month (excluding special offers), of just broadband, unlimited downloads (subject to fair use). No phone line needed. Great, eh?

And if you’re thinking “yeah but what about 0800/0845 calls. They’re excluded from my mobile minutes”, that’s where Skype comes in. You can pay as you go for the odd call here and there, that’s excluded from your plans, so if you end up sat on hold for 40minutes waiting to speak to someone about your freezer warranty, you won’t end up paying out £10 for the process.

Even if you were a prolific caller, it still isn’t worth having a landline. With Skype, as a UK user, you can sign up to a plan that allows you to make up to 6 hours of calls per day (10,000 minutes over the course of a month) for £3.99 a month.

And nobody wants to wear a headset to make a phone call, do they? But that’s not required anymore either, as Skype have apps for smartphones. You can make (and receive) calls on your iPhone, as if it was a normal phone, but only pay Skype’s rates. If your computer has bluetooth (mine does), you can use a mobile phone bluetooth headset for your Skype calls.

So that’s a total of £24.99 a month for 10mb broadband, and as many UK national calls as you can make.

And if you’re in a situation where you think people will put off calling you because of your lack of landline number, Skype have thought of that too. £3 a month and you can get a landline number (most major city STD codes are available), which diverts to either your Skype account, or any other phone you prefer. It’s like having a landline with caller diversion addon, but for a fraction of the price.

(Note: I should mention that if you don’t like Skype, or you’re not a fan of proprietary VoIP systems or whatever, there are numerous other companies who offer similar prices/services. Skype just have the simplest/most straightforward pricing I could find when I was writing this.)

Currently, because of what I can only assume is an accident, despite me living relatively near the centre of the city, my local BT exchange is over 2km away. “Up to 8mb” my arse. I can maybe get 3mb on a good day, if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

From 3rd December, BT are putting their prices up again. So I’ll then be paying:

  • 14.60 for line rental (including evening/weekend calls I don’t need)
  • 22.50 for BT Broadband option 2, up to 8mb (actually 3mb on a good day)
  • 6.80 monthly bullshit inactivity fine

Total: £43.90/month. For a shit speed, a landline I don’t want, and to be fined for not fitting their exacting call requirements. I can reduce my line rental to £10 a month if I don’t mind paying a year in advance. A year though! Ffs!

They’re also increasing their call prices a bit more. 7.95p/minute to UK landlines during the day. If you made those calls through Skype, it’d be 1.4p/minute.

Basically what I’m saying is that BT are shit. And expensive.

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