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How to get home internet without a phone line

While phone lines were once necessary for home internet, that's no longer the case for most internet service providers.

Cables attached to telegraph pole against blue sky
Ditto/Getty Images

I remember the days of dial-up internet service well, so I prefer to think it wasn't all that long ago that our home phone lines served the dual duty of connecting us to friends and family via the telephone and the rest of the world à la AOL. Really, it wasn't that long ago, a couple decades, but in the technology timeline, 20 or so years may as well be eons. 

As home internet technology evolved and connectivity vastly improved, internet providers have largely left the landline behind. In fact, most connection types -- cable, fiber, fixed wireless, satellite and 5G -- have nothing to do with a phone line at all. Even DSL, which does use existing phone lines to deliver service, typically does not require you to sign up for home phone service in order to get internet.

So can you get internet without a phone line? Absolutely, and doing so is as simple as knowing a little about how internet connections work, as well as what's available in your area.

How to get internet without a phone line

It's pretty simple: Just sign up with a provider that uses a cable, fiber, fixed wireless, satellite or 5G home internet network. None of these connection types require a phone line to your home.

Cable internet is the most available option for internet without a phone line, as coverage spans more than 90% of US households, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Providers such as Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, Mediacom and Optimum deliver the internet via coaxial cables or fiber lines in some areas. Either way, there are no phone lines involved. 

As for fiber internet, though less available than cable at roughly 42% nationwide coverage, it's also a popular option for internet without a phone line. Most major fiber providers, including AT&T, Frontier and Verizon, use a 100% fiber-optic network, which means fast download and upload speeds, supreme reliability and no need for a phone line. It is important to note, however, that fiber providers often also employ a separate DSL network, particularly to deliver service in suburban and rural areas, which does require a phone line to your home. 

Speaking of suburban and rural areas, DSL is indeed a popular choice for internet, but it's not the only one. Satellite internet from HughesNet, Viasat or possibly Starlink and fixed wireless internet from providers such as Rise Broadband beam internet signals to homes without the use of any direct lines, phone or otherwise. Satellite and fixed wireless service can be pricey, and speeds and data limits are relatively low compared to other internet connection types, so DSL, and the phone line that delivers it, may be your best internet option in rural areas. That is, if 5G home internet isn't available.

5G home internet arrives over the air, just like data to your smartphone, and can offer speeds and pricing that rivals cable and fiber internet service in many areas without the need for a direct line (including a phone line) to your home. So far, T-Mobile and Verizon are leading the 5G home internet charge with plans starting around $50 per month. Verizon boasts faster speeds, up to 980Mbps in select areas compared to T-Mobile's max of 115Mbps, but T-Mobile has greater coverage, particularly in rural areas. Speeds and availability will depend upon your home's location.

You will need a phone line for dial-up or DSL

5G and other connection types aside, there are some instances where using a phone line for home internet service makes sense, particularly if you are looking for a very cheap, very basic dial-up connection, or if you're relying on DSL for internet in a rural area. 

You probably won't find an internet service cheaper than dial-up. In fact, some dial-up providers like NetZero and Juno may offer free internet service for 10 hours or so per month. However, you also probably won't find an internet service slower than dial-up. Max speeds might reach 1 megabit per second, which is good for little more than checking email -- forget about streaming or connecting Wi-Fi devices. Oh, and you'll need a phone line and active phone service, which can offset the savings of a cheap dial-up connection, or even a free one. 

Even with DSL, landline service is typically not required

DSL also uses a phone line, but it's a bit more practical than dial-up, offering faster speeds (though admittedly not by much in some areas) while often maintaining low pricing. You also likely won't have to pay for a landline phone like you would with dial-up. 

DSL internet does not use phone lines in the same way as landline telephone service or dial-up, so you technically don't need a landline telephone connection for service. That said, it's possible that a DSL provider will only sell phone and internet service together, or include home phone service at no extra cost with internet. 

One other caveat to DSL that you won't have with dial-up is that you'll also need to live in a provider's service area. Even if you have a phone line running to your home, a provider such as AT&T, CenturyLink or Windstream will need to offer service in your area, whereas it's possible to get dial-up from virtually any provider, with an active phone line, of course.

Internet without a phone line FAQs

Can I get cheap internet without a phone line?

Dial-up and DSL are among the cheapest internet connection types, and both require a phone line to your home for service, but you may be able to get cable or fiber internet service starting at $20 per month, depending on the available providers in your area. These connection types often offer significantly faster speeds than dial-up or DSL and require no phone line whatsoever for service.

Do I need a phone line for internet in rural areas?

Only if you sign up for dial-up or DSL internet service. Other popular rural internet connections, including satellite, fixed wireless and now 5G home internet, require no direct phone line to the home, or active landline telephone service, to get connected.

Can I get internet without cable?

Internet and TV bundles are a convenient way to sign up for multiple home services with the same provider, and may even save you some money in the process, but cable TV is often not required in order to get home internet service. 

On the other hand, some providers, including Mediacom and Optimum, may require you to sign up for internet service in order to get cable. So can you get internet without cable? Yes, but it may not always be possible to get cable without internet.

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