Average line rental cost increases by 24pc in three years

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A third of customers say they would not pay for line rental if they didn’t need it for broadband, research has found.

Research from comparison site Broadbandchoices.co.uk has found that the average cost of line rental rose by 24pc between August 2009 and August 2012. The price rise percentage equates to almost twice the rate of inflation during that time, which was only 13pc.

Often, households have no choice but to pay for line rental, as a landline phone service is required for broadband. A third of customers said they would ditch line rental if they didn’t need it for broadband

The company that impose the largest price increase was Sky, whose line rental fee rose from £12.25 to £14.50 a month on 1st September 2012 an increase of £2.25. Plusnet wasn’t far behind, with a £1 increase from £12.99 to £13.99 a month, which will take effect from November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) 18.

AOL’s price increase of 45p was the lowest. It will take effect on January 1 and will bring take the monthly line rental fee from £13.90 to £14.35.

Dominic Baliszewski of Broadbandchoices.co.uk said: “In many cases the line rental now costs far more than the broadband or home phone package itself, so, if it has been a while since you shopped around, it would be smart to check the deals available in your area.

“Ofcom, the communications regulator, is now looking into the fairness of price rises being imposed on customers who are still within a fixed term contract, but it is clear that line rental increases will not be going away.”

He had the following advice for consumers looking for a better deal.

1. Switch: If you are out of contract and unhappy with the price you are paying, vote with your feet and change provider as there are cheap offers to be had for line rental from niche telecoms companies. For example, Primus Saver currently offers the UK’s cheapest line rental at just £7.49 per month, with no monthly cost for a calls package, and £8.69 per month including evening and weekend calls.

2. Pay upfront: Many mainstream providers will offer a significant discount to customers who pay their yearly line rental bill in one go. For example, BT (LSE: BT-A.L - news) gives a £40 discount to customers who pay upfront and Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media (NasdaqGS: VMED - news) also offer similar savings on this basis.

3. Move (NasdaqGS: MOVE - news) to cable: Getting cable broadband through Virgin Media is currently the only way that fixed line broadband customers can get online and bypass line rental altogether. Virgin Media’s cable network also offers some of the fastest, most reliable speeds in the country. However, not everyone lives in a Virgin Media cabled area, but you can type in your postcode on their website to see if you do. Make sure you compare prices to confirm that this option is cheaper than your current set up.

4. Go mobile: If you mainly use your internet connection for web browsing, emailing and a bit of internet banking, you could make the switch to mobile broadband to eliminate the monthly line rental bill. Slower speeds and restricted data allowances make it unsuitable for heavy online activity such as gaming or streaming films, but for light users it could be the perfect solution as it is available on pay-as-you-go or fixed term contracts giving added flexibility. Find a provider with the best mobile signal in your area by running a postcode search with each network provider to find the best speeds.