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Do I need to pay line rental for broadband?

One of the many questions that lands in the Recombu inbox is ‘Do I need to pay line rental for my broadband?’ The answer, in the majority of cases is yes, you do. 

If you’re getting a fixed-line service, either from ISPs using BT’s Openreach network or Virgin Media, then in most cases you will have to pay for line rental. 

Generally speaking, if it’s a fixed-line broadband service from BT, Virgin Media Sky, TalkTalk, EE, Plusnet or whoever you get your broadband from you’re more than likely to have to pay somebody somewhere for line rental. Do I need to pay Line Rental for Broadband?

Don't want to pay for line rental at all? Check out these broadband only and no landline dealsFor some this is a bit of a kicker. In this day and age where less and less people are using landlines to make calls - for which we now rely on our mobiles - we still have to cough up for using broadband lines.

The only times you definitely won’t need to pay for line rental is if you’re a subscriber to either satellite or wireless broadband services in which case there’s no phone line to pay rental for.

Aside from that, there’s rare occasions where an ISP will offer a ‘Broadband Only’ package where you just pay for the broadband - and no line rental - but this means you won’t be able to get other services like voice calls or TV.

Those of you lucky enough to live in an area served by Virgin Media (or Hyperoptic if you’re really lucky) will be able to sign up for a broadband only package, which waives the usual line rental fee, to reflect the fact that you won’t be taking landline calls or a TV subscription with your Internet service - see our round up of the best broadband only deals for more information. 

UK Line Rental: How much does it cost?

At the time of writing, the average monthly cost of line rental in the UK is somewhere around £18. Jump to the table below to see a full breakdown of line rental prices and potential savings. 

Despite telecoms regulator Ofcom forcing Openreach to lower the overall cost of line rental charged to ISPs from 2012, ISPs have continually increased line rental prices roughly once a year. 

Why is this? The short, snarky answer is that ISPs are in this to make money and increasing line rental slightly is one way of doing this. Those Premier League TV rights aren’t going to pay for themselves.

Luckily you can make use of line rental saver offers to save a bit of money and in some cases avoid price rises.  

How much is UK line rental? BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, EE, Plusnet, Fuel, Direct Save, SSE and Zen

In the table below we compare each provider’s standard monthly rate of line rental and their annual line rental saver rates.

Note that in some cases, you’ll be offered an 18 or 24 month contract, in which case you’ll have to either pay that last six or 12 months at the standard rate, or sign up for another year’s worth of line rental at the cheaper rate.

ISP Standard Monthly Rate Annual Line Rental Saver Rate Monthly vs Annual Saving
BT £17.99/month £194.28 £21.60
Virgin Media £17.99/month £184 £31.88
Sky £17.40/month n/a n/a
TalkTalk £17.70/month £191.16 £21.24
EE £17.50/month £189 £21
Plusnet £16.99/month £185.88 £18
Fuel Broadband £17.30/month n/a n/a
Direct Save Telecom £17.75/month £162 £51
SSE £16/month n/a n/a
Zen Internet £16.99/month n/a n/a

UK Line Rental: What is line rental saver?

Line rental saver lets you pay for a year’s worth of line rental up front, which tends to save you a bit of money. It also has the effect of basically protecting you from any rises in the standard rate of line rental an ISP might introduce. 

BT line rental and line rental saver to jump up in JulyFor example, from July 3 2016, BT will put up the standard rate of line rental from £17.99/month to £18.99/month. Anybody taking the line rental saver option now (£194.28/year at the time of writing) would save a total of £33.60 over 12 months. 

While line rental saver can save you some money, it’s not the most flexible option - £200-odd is a lot to pay up front. 

Not every ISP offers line rental saver either - both Sky and Fuel Broadband (formerly known as Primus Saver) canned their pay for a year up front offerings in 2014. 

UK Line Rental: How much would I save on line rental if I paid up front?

When advertising line rental saver options, ISPs are keen to list the equivalent monthly price, breaking down that big lump sum into 12 instalments. We think this is misleading, as you’ll never actually pay that equivalent rate every month.  

In the table above we’ve listed both of the line rental rates side by side and listed how much you’d actually save. 

While every line rental saver option will see you saving money, in some cases this saving can be as little as £18 - or as great as £51. We leave it up to you to decide whether or not the saving versus the flexibility of monhly payments is worth it. 

UK Line Rental: Can I get out of paying it?

Unless you specifically sign up for a broadband only package, then no. You have to take line rental unless it’s otherwise specified. 

If you’re opting for satellite, wireless or fixed-location 4G broadband then there isn’t a line rental cost associated there, although high installation costs mean that the first year can be expensive and in the case of fixed-location 4G, coverage gaps mean that this might not even be an option for you in the first place. 

UK Line Rental: Why does it keep going up?!

The price of line rental should stay the same for the duration of your contract, but your ISP is entitled to raise it at any time, provided there’s a notice period of at least 30 days.

Following Ofcom’s promise to crack down on mid-contract price rises, when an ISP ups its line rental prices, you’ll now be free to leave your contract early without incurring any any termination, break clause or ‘early exit’ fees. 

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