Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Has the pandemic put the final nail in the landline’s coffin?

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Friday 23 April 21

A report from Uswitch shows that landlines are facing a major decline, with more people turn to their mobile phones or other devices for communications

According to data from Uswitch, four million UK homes have disconnected their landlines since the millennium. Worse, of the 80% of homes that do still have a landline, around 26% do not even have a handset plugged in.    Now, with the pandemic forcing everyone to remain indoors, it would be easy to think that landline usage would have increased in the past year. But, on the contrary, people have instead turned to their mobile phones or video calling services like Zoom to communicate…

According to data from Uswitch, four million UK homes have disconnected their landlines since the millennium. Worse, of the 80% of homes that do still have a landline, around 26% do not even have a handset plugged in. 
 
Now, with the pandemic forcing everyone to remain indoors, it would be easy to think that landline usage would have increased in the past year. But, on the contrary, people have instead turned to their mobile phones or video calling services like Zoom to communicate, with landline use still falling; 27% of people said they had used their landline less frequently during lockdown, with only 15% saying their usage had increased.
 
In March 2020, Uswitch surveyed 2,001 UK adults about their landlines, extrapolating from the data that around five million households are never using their landline for phone calls. In total, there remains around 22 million landline connections in the UK, down 15% from the figure in the year 2000.
 
For many users, it seems that landlines have already become somewhat archaic, with 35% of respondents saying they only have a landline because they are required for their broadband connection. 
 
Naturally, there is a generational divide in play here. Over 95% of over-65s have a landline, but this shrinks to 82% of the 35–54 age bracket, and just 52% for 18–24 year-olds. 
 
But the amount of time spent using a landline is also falling, with each household averaging around 35 minutes a week talking on a landline, down from 48 minutes per week in 2018.
 
Ultimately, landline usage has been falling steadily for a number of years and this seems very likely to change. Mobile calls are simply cheaper and more convenient than using a landline, and nuisance calls remain a major problem.
 
“With the rise of mobile phones and network coverage improving all the time, landlines aren’t the necessity they once were,” noted Nick Baker, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com. “Many consumers – especially younger generations – don’t see the need for landlines, and find it odd that they have to pay line rental in order to have a broadband connection.”
 
If the pandemic, with everyone confined to their home and with little need for literal mobility when it comes to communications, cannot improve the utility of a landline, then it is difficult to see these results as anything but an indication of terminal decline.
 
That said, despite major process in recent years, mobile coverage remains far from ubiquitous in rural regions of the UK and some households are reliant on their landlines. Until good quality mobile and fixed broadband covers every home in the UK, landlines will remain a part of the UK’s telecoms ecosystem.
 
 
Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the world of telecoms? Subscriber to receive Total Telecom's daily newsletter here  
Also in the news: 
 

Since you're here...

...the Telecoms industry is characterised by constant change and evolution. That's why it's crucial for telecoms professionals to keep up-to-date with what is happening. Join 35,000+ of your peers and sign up to our free newsletter service today, to be in the know about what is going on. PLUS, as a member you can submit your own press releases!

See all membership options

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Newsletter signup

Quickly get on board and up to date with the telecoms industry