In the UK, there are four main ways of connecting to the internet: ADSL, fibre, cable and 4G mobile broadband. You can check to see which packages and connection types are available in your area with the uSwitch broadband postcode checker.
Do I need a landline for broadband?
It depends on which type of broadband you use. The most widely available broadband connection is ADSL, which uses Openreach phone lines to transmit data.
Because ADSL broadband is delivered via the aforementioned existing telephone network infrastructure, it means this type of connection is available to nearly everyone. But it also means that you need a landline to get ADSL, which you may not want or need.
ADSL broadband deals also include monthly line rental, service charges, and most likely a 12- or 18-month contract, which means that a landline is no small outlay.
So what do you do if you want broadband without line rental?
There are a number of cable or fibre-optic options available from Virgin Media, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and more. But many of the available fibre-optic broadband bundles are actually fibre to the cabinet connections, which still rely on phone lines. And if you want TV, too, good luck — finding broadband and TV deals without phone line rental is basically impossible.
With 4G essentially standard and 5G on the way, it means that mobile broadband speeds are much more comparable with fixed line services. Given that most mobile providers offer various forms of internet connection — including dongles and MiFis — it could be more in your interest to speak to them and see what they can offer, either with a new mobile broadband package, or by using your existing mobile phone and tethering it to your laptop.
How to get broadband without a phone line
Here we take a look at all the alternatives to ADSL in turn and outline some of their pros and cons.
If you really want broadband without line rental, mobile broadband may be a good solution, depending upon what your typical internet usage is.
With limited downloads and average speeds of 21Mbps, this isn't the right choice for heavy broadband users, but if you only need basic services like Facebook, e-mail and Skype, it should be more than enough.
You can connect to mobile broadband through a dongle, a MiFi or tethering your mobile. Tethering a mobile is the process of connecting it to a laptop (either wirelessly or with a phone-USB cable supplied with your handset) and using it as a gateway to the internet. This is a lot more straightforward than it sounds, and your provider can advise you on how to do it. Keep in mind, however, that tethering does eat into your mobile data limits.
Mobile broadband is a very flexible option, however. The USB connection will always be with you — at home, on the train or even abroad. If you have small internet demands and love the idea of mobility, 4G mobile broadband might be a good option for you.
The main disadvantage of mobile broadband is reception. Some areas of the UK still don’t have adequate mobile coverage, and although 4G coverage is increasing, it isn't available everywhere, which means your speeds may be lagging. It's worth checking coverage maps before making any mobile broadband purchases.
If mobile broadband sounds ideal for your needs, compare uSwitch's best-selling mobile broadband deals now.
Fibre-optic broadband is blisteringly quick — capable of offering speeds as fast as 900Mbps, depending upon your location and connection — and incredibly reliable.
Most fibre broadband packages offer unlimited downloads, and there are some great deals on TV and calls available with cable broadband packages, too.
Although fibre comes at a slightly higher cost than other packages, its benefits far outweigh the extra outlay, especially for heavy broadband users who enjoy online gaming or streaming, or for homes with multiple devices online at the same time.
To see if cable broadband is available in your area or to check out the speeds you might be able to get, compare our best-selling fibre broadband packages at uSwitch.
Even though you can theoretically get cable or fibre broadband without line rental, it can be hard to find a provider actually offering broadband without a landline.
Currently, Virgin Media is the only major ISP that lets you sign up for broadband without a phone line. Because Virgin Media operates independently on their own cable network independent of Opereach, the company offers several different broadband-only packages that don't require you to sign up for a landline.
Their broadband packages without line rental are actually more expensive than their packages that include line rental; however, if you're really after broadband without a landline, Virgin is likely your best bet. You can see all Virgin Media broadband deals available in your area, or see if any other broadband providers offer broadband without landline in your area.