If the ever-increasing spam call volume to landline numbers was not enough of a reason, the latest round of price increases from BT is proof that it is time to ditch the landline for good and move onto something better as soon as your contract is up.
Landlines are a feature of a bygone era of communications when mobile phones and the internet did not exist, and the best way to contact a person or business was to find their phone number in the Yellow Pages and call them in the hope that somebody at that office would pickup the phone. Today, we expect to be able to contact people by email, instant messenger, or by phone, and location no longer matters as everybody has a smartphone. In this world of 24/7 connectivity, landlines are not just expensive but they lack the features that we have come to expect for quick and efficient communication.
Consumers shift to mobile + broadband
As smartphone penetration edges towards 100%, even amongst the older generations, there is little reason for most homes to have landlines at all. They are constant targets for spammers and scammers, expensive, and if you get a good mobile phone signal at your home then you will do much better with an unlimited mobile phone plan than paying BT for the privilege of an old copper wire. Even for those without good signal at home, most modern smartphones now include a feature called WiFi Calling, where your phone will connect over your broadband connection, so even if there is no 2G, 3G, 4G, or 5G at your home, if you have broadband and WiFi then you can just use your phone as if the signal was perfect.
The latest figures from Statista show that since 2014 around half a million households in the UK have dropped their landlines each year, and the speed of change is accelerating. And as 5G technology becomes commonplace over the next few years, we will likely see the acceleration increase further and people start to use 5G for all their connectivity needs, without either a landline or even broadband.
Businesses move to VoIP
Landlines are also a poor choice for businesses. Whilst companies of all sizes do benefit from having a local phone number for people to call, a basic landline that connects to single office is no use when the majority of staff are working from home. Instead, companies around the world are rapidly moving towards a variety of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that combine the simplicity of a local number with the modern digital features we have come to expect and generally for a much lower monthly price.
In the most basic sense, moving from a landline to VoIP will save a company the cost of the monthly landline rental, as the calls are sent over the internet instead. However, small business VoIP services can also bundle a vast array of other services, from answerphones, to multiple call forwarding options so that no call is left unanswered no matter where employees are working from. Add to this the ability to complex options trees to make sure the caller gets directly to the right department, verification systems asking callers for user numbers and passcodes, and conference call options and the choice to leave landlines behind seems obvious.
VoIP services also give companies additional redundancy and failover options, so that even if power or connectivity to the office goes down, telecommunications will still be online and can be immediately rerouted, so that the phones are always answered. The days where some nearby roadworks can knock a business offline for days are a thing of the past with VoIP.
According to Statista, businesses in the United States added over 35 million VoIP lines between 2010 and 2018, reaching a total of 41.6 million. And the pace of change has only accelerated since as prices continues to fall by around five per cent per year and more and more people are working from home. In fact, total landlines installed around the world have fallen by around 25 per cent since 2006 and analysts at Gartner predict that roughly 90% of all IT leaders will stop buying on-premises communications altogether by 2021. Traditional landline desk phone systems will soon be relegated to museums.