Do you need a landline for broadband?

3 min Read Published: 16 Nov 2023

The connections used to build the extensive UK phone network are still a big part of how we communicate now. Landlines may seem like a relic of the past, but some households like to have a connection as a backup, while many continue to rely on being able to make calls from their home phone. Do we still need a landline for broadband? The answer is not straightforward and depends on the type of internet connection you have. Here we break down the details.

Do you need a phone line for broadband?

If your home is not connected to the phone network, or the phone line has been disconnected, it is sensible to question whether you need a landline to get broadband in your home. The answer will depend on what type of broadband you want to get and what is available in your area.

Types of broadband that require a phone line

A phone line is required to achieve a standard broadband connection – also known as ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) – or fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband. This is because standard broadband connects your home to the internet using the UK’s existing network of phone lines.

Fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband uses the same copper phone wires to connect your home to a cabinet in the street. Fibre-optic cables then cover the rest of the connection. You can find out more about the different types of internet connection available in the UK by reading our article 'Which broadband is best?'.

Remember that having a phone line installed does not mean you have to use a landline phone, or even own a handset. The connection can be used solely for broadband and you will only need to buy a handset and set up a phone if you choose to.

Types of broadband that do not require a phone line

Living in a well-connected part of the UK might mean that you don’t need a phone line for your internet connection.

Households connected to the internet through full fibre, cable, mobile or satellite broadband do not need a phone line. These types of connection use other infrastructure to connect you to the internet, so you don’t need a phone line to carry digital information in and out of your home. Frustratingly, not every home is currently able to access every type of broadband connection.

The phone line network is a long-established part of UK infrastructure, but the fibre network is still growing. In the future, more homes will be connected by fibre-optic cables, and copper phone lines might become a thing of the past. At the time of writing, full fibre and cable broadband are not supported by the same level of infrastructure as the phone network, so it is likely you will need to get a phone line installed if you do not already have one.

Which type of broadband needs a landline?

Type of broadband Available without a phone line
Standard broadband (ADSL) No
Fibre-to-the-cabinet No
Full fibre Yes
Cable broadband Yes
Mobile broadband Yes
Satellite broadband Yes

Is it cheaper to get broadband without a landline?

Full fibre, mobile and satellite connections are generally more expensive than more common fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband deals. Therefore, you may find it is cheaper to get a phone line installed and opt for a standard broadband provider than pay a premium price for a different type of connection.

Price is not everything, though. Keep in mind that your internet speed needs to keep up with the demand your household places on your broadband. So paying extra for cable, full fibre or mobile broadband might work out for you. You can read more about broadband speed in our article 'What broadband speed do I need?'.

You can find out more about mobile broadband in our article 'What is mobile broadband?'.

How to get a new phone line

The good news is that it is usually easy to get a phone line installed if you do not already have one. Your chosen broadband provider will assess whether you need a line installed or not. If you do, you will be told what steps they will carry out and how much the process will cost. Someone visiting your property to install a new line should take a couple of hours. It may involve some drilling into walls or brickwork, depending on what your current phone line setup is.

If your provider tells you that it is not possible to have a phone line installed, you may need to consider another type of internet connection. Contact Openreach first to confirm you cannot be connected, then look into cable, mobile or even satellite broadband.

What if you live in a remote area?

You may find that living in a particularly rural area makes it more difficult to get a phone line installed. However, it might be possible to connect to the internet through a different method. We have more information on rural broadband in our article 'How to get fast rural broadband in the UK'.

Will you need a landline for broadband in the future?

The infrastructure supporting landlines is in the process of being replaced. Openreach has stated that it will be retiring the analogue phone network at the end of 2025. The aim is that by this point the whole of the UK will have been upgraded to a digital phone line, connecting phones through the broadband network. Until then, the old network of copper phone lines will play a key part in keeping large parts of the UK online.