Line rental - it’s never the headline charge but it often accounts for half of your regular phone or broadband bill.
What’s the point in getting a great deal on phone or broadband if you just get stiffed on the line rental anyway?
Broadband and phone providers claim they don’t make money out of line rental, but Ofcom has been telling BT Openreach - the Network Rail of Britain’s phone and broadband business - to cut the cost of wholesale line rental. Despite this, most providers have increased their line rental charges this year.
At the same time Sky, TalkTalk and BT have all introduced advanced payment line rental which cuts much closer to the wholesale cost if you can afford to pay for a year up front.
So, if we ignore the headline price offers, what’s the best price line rental for consumer broadband?
The reference, as ever, is BT’s line rental at £129/year in advance (equivalent to £10.75/month), or £14.60/month.
And 'cos we like to show our working, you can see our roundup table at the bottom of the page.
Advanced Line Rental: Plusnet
The cheapest line rental - by a penny - is Plusnet’s advanced rate of £113.88/year (equivalent to £9.49/month). The next-best deal is TalkTalk at £114/year (£9.50/month advance), and in both cases you have to get the basic broadband as well, and line rental includes evening and weekend calls to UK landlines.
Monthly Line Rental: BE Broadband
The best deal for monthly payers is BE Broadband at £10/month, but it doesn’t include any free calls and you have to get BE Broadband.
Some line rentals come with more than others - AOL, Eclipse, Plusnet, Post Office, Sky and TalkTalk all give you inclusive weekend and evening calls to UK landlines. This usually means 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers for up to 60 minutes per call.
Direct Save Telecom, Tesco and Virgin all throw in unlimited weekend UK landline calls, while Tesco and the Post Office also include free calls anytime to other users of the same service. The Post Office even includes weekend calls to UK mobile numbers.
Eclipse includes 1,000 anytime UK landline minutes and Direct Save claims to make UK landline and mobile calls 31 per cent lower than BT.
Basic voicemail, directory enquiries, 1471 call-back and 141 for hiding your number are included with many packages. Cheaper calls to UK mobiles and international destinations are also common.
Orange’s hefty £19 basic package isn’t really line rental alone, but it does include broadband at up-to-20Mbps with a 20GB monthly download allowance, and a free router.
We've nominated Eclipse for their 1,000 free UK anytime landline minutes, but it's really about the deal that's best for you.
Five of these line rentals - AOL, BE, Eclipse, O2 and Plusnet - are only available if you also take broadband from the same supplier. Orange is only available if you take broadband and an additional calls package.
The words ‘free’ and ‘unlimited’ aren’t bandied around as casually as they used to be, but free calls deals are usually limited to the first 60 minutes of each call. UK landlines typically refers to numbers starting 01, 02, 03 (UK local and national), 0845 & 0870 (non-geographical numbers), and usually excludes the Channel Islands.
Most expensive: Orange & BT
As you’ll see in our research, Orange has the most expensive UK landline rental, but this does include up-to-20Mbps broadband with a 20GB allowance - the landline portion works out at £10.50/month.
BT has the UK’s most expensive solo line rental, both in advance and paid by the month, and you have to make two chargeable calls every month to avoid a £1.50 surcharge.