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Number of homes with a landline has fallen by 4m in last 20 years

The number of households with a landline has fallen by four million since 2000, new research has revealed.

There are now around 22million connections in the UK, down 15 per cent from its peak at the turn of the century when 95 per cent of homes had one, according to data from Uswitch.

Some 1.41million have decided to ditch theirs in the past three years alone, additional data from Statista shows. 

The research shows the landline is in terminal decline, with five million households never using theirs for phone calls.

The number of households with a landline has fallen by 4m since the year 2000, data shows

Meanwhile, four in five homes have a landline, but more than a quarter don’t have a handset attached.

A further 35 per cent say they only have a landline because it’s necessary for having a broadband connection.

On average, households spend just five minutes a day — 35 minutes a week — talking on their landlines, down 27 per cent from two years ago, when people made 48 minutes of calls a week.

However, older people make 46 minutes of calls a week on their landlines, compared to 25 minutes for the younger generation.

There are several reasons the landline is no long popular with the main one being the rise of the mobile phone.

The number of spam phone calls received is another turn off with 29 per cent of people saying the last call they received was suspicious or an unsolicited marketing call – 17 per cent higher than for those on mobile phones.

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 26 per cent of unwanted contacts — up from just 4 per cent in 2017.

In fact, 22 per cent of those with a landline say they avoid answering their phone in case it is a nuisance call and 28 per cent of older people say they have had a bad experience with scam and sales callers.

To avoid these calls, 35 per cent have registered for the Telephone Preference Service with younger consumers taking 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.

Landlines are much more popular for the older generation with 95% of over-65s having one

Landlines are much more popular for the older generation with 95% of over-65s having one

There’s a generational divide in attitudes to landlines, with their popularity far lower among younger people.

More than 95 per cent of the over-65s have one but this falls to 82 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 and ownership drops to just 52 per cent among under 25s.

Meanwhile, landlines remain a lifeline for residents in rural areas where mobile reception can be poor.

Some 83 per cent of rural households have a landline, compared to 65 per cent in urban areas.

While many relied on phone calls to communicate during lockdown, landline use fell even further during this period with 27 per cent using their connection less, compared to 15 per cent using it more frequently.

Part of the reason for the decline in landline use is that calls are more expensive than on a mobile phone.

Some 59 per cent of consumers that have both a landline and a mobile phone say making a call on a mobile is cheaper.

However, 37 per cent don’t know how much their calls cost and 18 per cent can’t remember the last time they used their landline for a call.

Nick Baker, telecoms expert at Uswitch, said: ‘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. If you suspect you are being targeted by a scammer, hang up immediately.’

Uswitch compiled the data after conducting a survey of 2,001 adults in March 2021. 

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