Landlines: The tech that just won't die

Do we have any choice about paying for home phone numbers?

So, what can we do?

Talk to people in the ISP or telecoms business, and all too often they'll tell you how they've spent ages patiently explaining to people what's possible, only for the other person to say "Great. I'll give BT a ring.”

Despite the passage of time since privatisation and the rise of competitors, a huge number of people simply go with the tried and tested BT name. And then there's old fashioned inertia. That's what kept my line with BT until the final straw of realising it was costing more than £20 a month.

I would expect that a huge proportion of Reg readers have taken advantage of Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) to get their broadband service from someone other than BT, but how many of you have done the same with your phone service?

Mercury phonecards

Carrier preselection with Mercury phonecards

There have, over the years, been a number of ways in which you can save money on calls. The first alternative to BT was Cable and Wireless' Mercury, which you accessed by dialling the 131 prefix, and as other operators sprung up, and prefixes proliferated – Carrier Pre Selection, or CPS was born. That ensures that all calls over your line will automatically be routed via a different phone company. And while it will avoid some of the other nuisances of BT's charging, like the "call connection fee", you'd still be paying the rip-off line rental.

Thanks in part to the unbundling driven by broadband, you can now unbundle your phone service. Having that choice is what now forces OpenReach to publish the wholesale prices mentioned above.

How does that work? At its simplest, a company – which doesn't necessarily have to be the same as your ISP – can take over the line rental, and bill you for that, and bill you for the calls, with everything still travelling over the BT network. The difference is that they add their own markup to the wholesale prices, and it'll probably still be less than BT.

It's also possible for a company to take over your line and, effectively, use CPS to route all the calls in a different way. You don't have to use the same company for your phone service as your broadband, though some large providers like TalkTalk may make it a condition of their service, and operate their own wholesale networks in some areas.

That said, in the interests of a simple life should anything go wrong, it may be best to go with your ISP anyway, if it provides a line rental option. At least there'll be less opportunity for passing the buck, and even if the company is simply retailing an OpenReach line, you'll still save.

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021