All about line rental

ByKim Staples
Engineer on a telegraph pole

A lot of broadband packages have something extra added to their monthly cost - line rental. But that sounds like a phone line, not broadband… what’s going on here?

The truth of the matter is that a lot of providers can only connect your broadband if you have some of this mysterious line rental. Here's why.

Why do I need line rental?

Broadband from most providers is delivered via phone lines. Whether that line is being used for getting online or for making calls, the cost of maintaining it is the same - so providers need to charge for it.

The majority of providers in the UK use BT Openreach to get their services to you, which works entirely through the copper phone lines of BT's national network. What that means is that there's a fairly good chance you'll need a phone line for your broadband, regardless of which provider you choose.

It doesn't mean you need a phone attached if you don't think you'll use it - the line itself just has to be active.

How it affects your broadband package

Most broadband providers require a working landline, and that means you'll need to subscribe to line rental when you take out a broadband package. Maintenance of the line is a different service from a broadband connection, so this is usually presented as two different costs.

But don't worry - you should still be able to get a good deal.

Popular broadband deals

Post Office
Fast Broadband (all in pricing) Broadband Unlimited Unlimited Broadband Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Broadband Premium + Weekend Calls
Monthly cost £22.95 1st year cost: £275.40 Monthly cost Free (for 12 months, then £10.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £9.95 Monthly cost Free (for 12 months, then £9.99 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: -£43.01 Monthly cost £10.99 (for 12 months, then £26.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £188.83 Monthly cost £3.00 (for 18 months, then £10.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £42.95
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 52 Mb Up To 17 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc.
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Call Plusnet on 0808 178 5954
Mon to Fri 8am-8pmSat 9am-7pmSun 9am-6pm
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm

Luckily, most providers offer line rental as well as broadband, and you can almost always bundle them together - sometimes for a lower rate than if you get them separately. To see what price you'd pay overall for broadband and line rental together, use our postcode checker and tick 'Include line rental' in the results grid.

Some broadband packages need line rental from the same provider, though others, such as ones from Plusnet, don't. As long as you have an active line they can connect your internet. In those cases, it can be beneficial to shop around for the cheapest line rental you can find. Or, it could be better (and far less hassle) to get it all from the same provider, particularly if there's a discount on offer.

Another way of getting a good deal on your landline is to pay for a full year upfront. A lot of providers allow you to do this, and it means you'll pay less for the year overall.

What if I don't want line rental?

Only a couple of providers offer broadband that doesn't require line rental at all. These include Virgin Media and Hyperoptic - both of which have their own broadband networks separate from BT that work a little differently, meaning a landline isn't always necessary.

Other options include wireless broadband, which is delivered via 4G like a mobile network, or satellite broadband. Neither, however, are quite as reliable as a standard wired home connection.

Take a look at our guide to broadband without a landline for more info.

Woman on phone

Home phone

On the other hand, if you do want to make phone calls, you might prefer to get a few extras with a proper package. A lot of them offer fun things like inclusive calls, voicemail, minutes to phone other countries cheaply, and mobile apps to use your home phone minutes when you're connected to Wi-Fi elsewhere.

Some providers even include a few of these features - like evening or weekend calls to UK landlines - in with their standard line rental.

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