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Brits hang up the landline: Five million households say they no longer need a home phone

  • Over a quarter of households — five million — never use their landline for phone calls[1] with more than a third (35%) only having one to get broadband[2]

  • The number of homes with a landline has fallen four million from its peak in 2000[3], with homes now spending just five minutes a day making calls[4]

  • Nearly three in ten people (29%) say the last person to phone was a nuisance caller[5], with the proportion of scam calls rocketing six-fold since 2017[6] 

  • Almost a quarter of people (22%) avoid answering their landline for fear of nuisance calls[2]

  • Over nine in ten over-65s (95%) have a landline, compared to just over half (52%) of 18 to 24-year-olds[1] 

  • offers tips on how to avoid nuisance calls and avoid getting conned by scammers.

The landline is in terminal decline, with five million households never using theirs for phone calls[1], reveals research by, the comparison and switching service.

The number of homes with a landline has fallen by four million since the year 2000 to about 22 million connections now[1], down 15% from its peak of being present in 95% of UK homes at the turn of the century[3]. 

However, although 80% of homes have a landline, a quarter (26%) don’t have a handset attached to their landline[1]. More than a third of people (35%) say they only have a landline because it's necessary for having a broadband connection[2].

On average, households spend just five minutes a day — 35 minutes a week — talking on their landlines, down more than a quarter (27%) from two years ago, when people made 48 minutes of calls a week. Older consumers make 46 minutes of calls a week on their landlines, compared to 25 minutes for young people[4].

Almost three in ten landline users (29%) say the last call they received was suspicious or an unsolicited marketing call, almost two thirds higher than for those on mobile phones (17%)[5]. 

While the number of nuisance calls reported has not changed dramatically in recent years, the proportion of scam calls has risen to now make up more than one in four (26%) of unwanted contacts — up from just 4% in 2017[6].

More than a fifth of consumers with a landline (22%) say they avoid answering their phone in case it is a nuisance call, and over a quarter of older people (28%) have had a bad experience with scam and sales callers[2]. 

There’s a generational divide in attitudes to landlines, with their popularity far lower among younger consumers. More than nine in ten (95%) of the over-65s have one, but this falls to four fifths (82%) of consumers aged 35 to 54, and ownership drops to just over half (52%) among 18 to 24 year olds[1]. 

Landlines remain a lifeline for residents in rural areas where mobile reception can be poor. More than four fifths of rural households (83%) have a landline, compared to less than two thirds (65%) in urban areas[7].

Surprisingly, landline use has even fallen during lockdown, with more than a quarter of households (27%) using their connection less, compared to only one in seven (15%) using it more frequently[8]. 

Over a third of households (35%) have registered for the Telephone Preference Service to dodge nuisance calls. Younger consumers have taken more drastic action to avoid such calls, with the most popular option among 18 to 34-year-olds being to stop answering the landline altogether[9].

Part of the reason for the decline in landline use is that calls are more expensive than on a mobile phone. Almost three fifths of households (59%) that have both a landline and a mobile phone say making a call on a mobile is cheaper[10]. 

More than a third of landline users (37%) don’t know how much their calls cost[11], and almost a fifth of people (18%) can’t remember the last time they used their landline for a call[12]. is offering consumers tips on how to avoid nuisance calls and avoid getting conned by scammers. When using your mobile, block any numbers used by nuisance callers. To stop unwanted contact on your landline, register with the Telephone Preference Service by calling 0845 070 0707.

Nick Baker, telecoms expert at, comments: “With the rise of mobile phones and network coverage improving all the time, landlines aren't the necessity they once were.

“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.

“Nuisance calls have been a problem on landlines for years, and unfortunately they are not getting better, with nearly one in four households reporting the last call they received was from a scammer or sales person. 

“However, it isn’t time to forget about the landline just yet, as they continue to be a lifeline for those in rural communities where mobile reception can be unreliable.

“If you’re struggling with nuisance calls, make sure you have registered for the Telephone Preference Service, which should reduce the amount of sales and marketing calls you receive. And if you suspect you are being targeted by a scammer, hang up immediately.”

Find out how much you could save a year with here.


Rory Stoves
Phone: 020 3872 5613
Twitter: @UswitchPR

Notes to Editors
Opinium surveyed a sample of 2,001 UK adults from 12th to 15th March 2021. Results were weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria.
1. Respondents were asked ‘Do you have a landline?’ 21% (420 people) said ‘Yes – I have a landline but no phone attached to it’. 59% (1,179 people) said ‘Yes – I have a phone attached to my landline’. 20% said ‘No’. 21% + 59% = 80% have a landline. 80% of 27,600,000 UK households = 22 million households have a landline. 21% of 27,600,000 households = 5.8 million people who have a landline but no phone attached. 420 + 1,179 = 1,599 people with a landline. 420 / 1,599 = 26% of people with a landline don’t have a phone attached. 93.5% of over-55s have a landline, 82.7% of 35-54 year olds have one, 52% of 18-24-year-olds have one.
2. Respondents were asked ‘Which, if any, of the following statements do you agree with?’ 35% agreed with the statement ‘I only have a landline because I need one for my broadband connection’. 24% agreed with the statement ‘I have had bad experiences of nuisance calls with my home phone’. 29% of over-55s agreed with the previous statement. 22% agreed with the statement ‘I avoid answering my home phone in case it is a nuisance call’. 10% agreed with the statement ‘I do not know what my landline number is’. 14% agreed with the statement ‘I do not know what my landline number is or how to find out what it is’. 13% agreed with either of the above statements.
3. Statista: Percentage of households with landline telephones in the United Kingdom (UK) from 1970 to 2018
4. Respondents were asked ‘Thinking about personal calls, how many minutes a week do you spend/spent talking on your landline?’ The average was 35.6 minutes a week. The average for two years previous was 48.4 minutes. 48.4 - 35.6 = 12.8 minutes difference. 12.8 / 48.4 = 26.4% fall in two years.
5. Respondents were asked ‘What was the last call you received on the following device?’ Among landline users, 12% said ‘Recorded message - suspicious call, potentially fraudulent’. 11% said ‘Sales/marketing call - someone calling from a company I have no relationship with’. 6% said ‘Recorded message - someone trying to sell me something’. In total, 29% of landline calls were suspicious or unsolicited sales or marketing calls. The comparable figures for mobile phone users were 7%, 5% and 5%, adding up to 17%. 29% - 17% = 12%. 12% / 17% = 70% more nuisance calls for landline users.
6. Ofcom: Landline nuisance calls panel
7. Opinium surveyed a sample of 2,000 UK adults from 16th to 19th February 2021. Respondents were asked ‘Do you have a landline telephone?’ 83% of those who lived in rural areas replied ‘Yes’, compared to 65% of those in urban areas. 
8. Respondents were asked ‘Have you been using your landline more or less often since the first period of lockdown started in March 2020?’ 56% said ‘About the same’. 27% said ‘less often’. 15% said ‘more often’.
9. Respondents were asked ‘What steps, if any, have you taken to avoid nuisance calls on your home phone?’ 35% said ‘Registering for the Telephone Preference Service (e.g. BT Privacy)’. 18% said ‘Stopped answering landline altogether’, rising to 26% for 18 to 34-year-olds. 
10. Respondents were asked ‘If you needed to make a call, which would be cheaper?’ 59% said ‘mobile phone’.
11. Respondents were asked ‘How much does it cost you to make a ten-minute call to a UK mobile phone at midday on the following devices?’ 37% of landline users said ‘don’t know’. 
12. Respondents were asked ‘Do you agree with the following statement: I can’t remember the last time I used my home phone to make or receive a call.’ 18% of people said ‘Yes’.

About Uswitch 

Uswitch is one of the UK’s top comparison websites for home services switching, including broadband, mobiles, SIM Only and insurance. We’ve saved consumers over £2.5 billion off their bills since we launched in September 2000.

In 2022, Uswitch launched its free mobile app, Utrack, to help consumers manage their home energy costs. By connecting to their smart meter, users can track their energy usage hourly, get dynamic insights and calculate potential savings with handy tips. 

Uswitch is part of RVU, a global group of online brands with a mission to empower consumers to make more confident home services, insurance and financial decisions.