Line rental or to be specific, phone line rental, is a fee charged for a landline connection. It's a standard charge that customers typically pay monthly to their telephone provider. It covers the costs of maintaining the copper wire cabling that runs from the street to the socket inside the property.
In England and across the UK, we predominantly use a legacy nationwide telephone network operated by BT Group PLC, formerly British Telecom. Until 2016, this included exclusive use for Openreach and a monopoly that denied access to other providers.
However, even if you don’t have BT Broadband, an Openreach phone line still may be used to provide your home with a broadband connection. This is known as 'Fibre to the Cabinet' (FTTC) and will be subject to line rental. Most providers include this within their package tariff but it’s important to check the small print to make sure.
Other connections that are wired straight to the property or are completely cableless are able to avoid this cost altogether.
Line rental: the key points
How much is line rental?
The price you pay for line rental may vary and will be subject to inflation, like any other service charges. A very typical, ballpark amount to expect tends to range from £20-30 per month.
How much is BT line rental?
BT line rental essentially sets the price baseline. In its BT Consumer Price Guide (February 2023), the Standard Line Rental is currently set at £26.35.
Line Rental Plus adds calling features, free paper bills and bill alerts for £28.35 per month.
These rates are normally updated annually.
Can I get line rental on a social tariff?
BT Basic is a low-price telephone package for those claiming income support and other social benefits. The current price (October 2023) is £5.10 per month for line rental, which includes a £1.50 call allowance.
If your call charges don’t exceed this allowance, you’ll only have the line rental to pay.
Most importantly, you can also get BT Basic + Broadband for £9.95 in total per month with line rental included.
Read our guide for more information on ‘social tariffs and cheaper broadband deals if you’re on benefits’.
Why do I need to pay line rental when I don’t make calls?
This is a popular complaint among customers. It can seem unfair to be charged line rental if you don’t use a telephone line for calls, but only for broadband.
However, if you’re signed up to a standard fibre deal, the same analogue copper wire is being used to carry data to the fibre-optic cables in the street cabinet. So you are using the line even if you never use a landline telephone at all.
Do I have to pay line rental with full fibre broadband?
No, well certainly not landline line rental. Full-fibre broadband goes from your network provider straight to your home with no copper wire. This is also called 'Fibre to the Premises' (FTTP) and often refers to providers who don’t use the Openreach network like Virgin Media and Hyperoptic.
These connections rely on a new line, using special cabling that is installed to your home to deliver faster fibre broadband speeds. Many can also bundle a phone package with inclusive calls too, but that still doesn’t require landline rental.
Whether you are in fact paying a ‘line rental’ of sorts in your monthly bill isn’t normally defined.
SOGEA upgrades: why you might not have to pay line rental anymore
Plusnet recently upgraded its network to SoGEA, making all packages ‘broadband only’. All customers were moved onto a new contract. This means it’s no longer reliant on a copper line and no phone line rental is required anymore.
However, if you still wanted phone calls you’d have to keep line rental up with BT. The good news is, if you’re happy to use mobile phone, you could save yourself a lot every month.
If more providers follow suit this could give a lot more options. Keep an eye on this if you receive a similar note from your provider. You could needlessly end up paying line rental from BT if you don’t stay on the ball. Get in touch with your provider if you need more help.
What is 'SoGEA'?
SoGEA stands for 'Single Order Generic Ethernet Access'. It's a way of accessing broadband over a single connection, without a phone line, but works out around 30% cheaper to install than full fibre broadband. Because you don't need a phone line with SoGEA-enabled broadband, you won't be required to pay for line rental if you have no need to make phone calls using a landline.
However, it's not as fast as full fibre broadband. You'll be able to achieve average download speeds of around 80Mb and upload speeds of around 20Mb. This is currently plenty fast enough for most average broadband users. For more help understanding how fast you need to go with your internet at home, read our 'easy guide to broadband speeds'.
How else can I get broadband without line rental?
- Virgin Media and other Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) providers are a popular wired broadband option for avoiding BT line rental.
- 4G and 5G mobile broadband packages like Three Home Broadband offers unlimited 5G access from a wireless hub router that naturally has no landline line rental charge.
- Satellite broadband is a wireless solution mainly used in remote, rural situations where network access is limited.
Which broadband providers offer packages without line rental?
Providers of full-fibre, FTTP broadband services are the main names available here along with leading mobile networks. Keep in mind possible restrictions by area coverage, signal or restrictions around property installation so be sure to check availability with each provider:
Checking which broadband services you can sign up to at home is easy. You can use the Broadband Genie Deals Checker for free. Simply pop your address into the box and you'll only be shown the deals you can get at your exact location.
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Frequently Asked Questions about line rental
Do I still need to pay BT line rental?
Yes, if you have FTTC Broadband or Openreach the connection still uses the phone line so is subject to BT line rental – whether you pay them directly or not.
Do you pay line rental with Virgin Media Broadband?
Virgin Media is FTTP Broadband using its own network cabling, so doesn't require a BT line rental charge.
Can I pay line rental in instalments?
Line rental is effectively paid in monthly instalments already. BT has discontinued its ‘Line Rental Saver’ discount scheme (July 2023) that offered savings for paying line rental upfront yearly.
Line rental is a legacy charge for BT and Openreach network connections. This fee for upkeep of landline copper wiring is still required for FTTC broadband, whether you’re with BT or not.
Regular fibre broadband deals typically include this charge in the package price and take care of it for you.
Options to avoid this include switching to a full-fibre (FTTP) or mobile provider, while anyone qualifying for discounted social tariff rates should get in touch with their broadband provider's customer support.
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