BT reports increase in number of landlines in the UK

The number of landlines in the UK returned to growth last year after being boosted by rising demand for broadband, BT said today.

While demand for calls continues to wane, the landline is undergoing a reversal in fortunes as households and businesses that previously disconnected their landlines to rely on mobile technology are tempted back by broadband.

As a result, the number of landlines on BT’s network increased by 11,000 to 24.8 million in the year to March 31, after a 300,000 decline the previous year.

BT, which recently hiked the price of daytime calls, said the growth of broadband meant the future of the landline was bright, even though call volumes are set to carry on being squeezed by mobile phones and other methods of communication.

The telecoms giant makes an income out of landlines whether the customer subscribes through BT or a rival such as TalkTalk or Sky because it owns the landline network.

Virgin Media provides broadband through an alternative cable network, but this covers only about 13 million households.

Chief executive Ian Livingston said: “The death of the landline has been somewhat exaggerated.

“We saw a renaissance last year, but it’s about broadband not about people making more calls.

“We are seeing people who were mobile-only households that are now using the BT network for things like the BBC’s iPlayer and to help them do their homework.”

There was also strong demand for landlines from businesses, as a third of them now use the internet to sell their wares, he added.

The company said consumer revenues declined 5% in the past year as lower call volumes more than offset the rise in broadband revenues at its retail division.

BT is confident that the demand for broadband will continue to grow as speeds increase, enabling quicker downloads.

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