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Landline Vs. Cell: Should The House Phone Become A Paperweight?

With today's cell phones serving our every possible need, it seems the landline is fading like the standard transmission.

Like many households, we’re facing the dilemma of keeping the house phone or dropping the service.  Similar to the feeling prior to ripping off an unsightly Band-Aid, you know it needs to be done.  It was comfortable and convenient, serving its purpose, but it's become weathered and ignored, no longer of use.  

With today's cell phones serving our every possible need, it seems the landline is fading like the standard transmission.  Before you know it, our grandchildren will look at the landline the same way our own children look at the rotary or corded telephone.  

Worse, when our landline is used, the cordless phones are either lost under couches, left in rooms with no chargers or not hung up properly, posing another issue of use.  A five-minute conversation on the landline often results in the repetitive beeping of a failed charge, resulting in an unsuccessful quest for another charged telephone.  One of our four house phones went missing, left on the tailgate of a car by a teenager in our driveway, only to be driven off and destroyed.   

Some may keep their landline simply for the 911 capability.  Yet, according to the Federal Communications Commission, “more than 70% of all 911 calls are placed by wireless phones, and the percentage is growing.” Because of this growing percentage, the FCC has in place a number of communication regulations with wireless service providers.  

At least in my house, when the house phone rings, no one answers it (one of the many benefits of having teenagers).  Because of the caller ID feature, no one cares to chat with the Hartford Courant, the American Red Cross or GoDaddy.com.  Most of our friends and family call or text our cell phones. 

Surprisingly, the connection and clarity of our cellphones are better in the house than the landline.  My landline often echos, causing one to hang up and redial on the cell.  The reality is, paying for a service that provides less quality accompanied with rare use, is a waste.   

Eliminating the monthly expense of our landline would not only be economical and convenient, it would also do away with the laundry list of issues that seem to accompany the indentured dependency. Some people “bundle” their services with their cable and Internet (a fixed, then runaway cost issue I’ll be tapping on in a future column) and accept the service as part of their plan.  

Bundling with a landline (if you don't need it) is like buying a mixed bag of Hershey’s chocolate bars.  Not everyone likes the dark chocolate pieces in the “bundled” bag.  At least in my house, it’s the one form of chocolate that continues to be picked over.  Even if you try and give it away, no one seems to have a taste for it.    

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules aimed at improving the reliability of wireless 911 services and the accuracy of the location information transmitted with a wireless 911 call, as part of our efforts to improve public safety. Such improvements enable emergency response personnel to ensure that Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) receive meaningful, accurate location information from wireless 911 callers in order to dispatch local emergency responders to the correct location and to provide assistance to 911 callers more quickly. The FCC’s wireless 911 rules apply to all wireless licensees, broadband Personal Communications Service (PCS) licensees and certain Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees. Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) providers, however, are currently excluded. The FCC’s basic 911 rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to a PSAP, regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the provider’s service or not.”

For more information and tips for consumers using 911 via cell phone, visit fcc.gov/guides/wireless-911-services

Elaine October 08, 2012 at 12:16 PM
My analog landline worked perfectly using a corded phone during the 7 days I was without power in Oct 2011. I don't think there are too many people using only cell phones or VOIP that can make the same claim. I won't give up my landline until cell service offers the same reliability.
Karen's Dog Training Blog October 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I also used my old corded landline last October and that is when I decided it was worth keeping for now
Sheila October 08, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Our landline went out right before our power did in Oct 2011, so it didn't matter. We had to move out of our house (no heat) and in with my parents (who at least had a woodstove and phone service). But since we get our internet service through DSL, we have no choice but to keep our landline anyway. I save on monthly fees by keeping the cell phone service to bare-bones, we're even thinking of getting our teenager a pre-paid cell phone rather than adding him to the monthly plan.
Ron Goralski October 08, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Lake Garda (Unionville) is AT&T's bottomless pit of zero bars. We can't depend on it here. "DO YOU HEAR ME AT&T?" We shouldn't have to pay big bucks for their stupid gadget (tech talk) just to get better service. If I'm unable to get a call or text from inside of my home, and you have a solution, why should I have to pay extra for it?
Granby October 08, 2012 at 06:26 PM
We got rid of our landline a long time ago and have iPhones on Verizon. If you have a cordless phone the landline won't work during a power outage anyway. During our 10 days without power last October my trusty iPhone was the only thing that worked (and our town set up cell phone charging stations since they had a building with a generator so I could go charge it whenever). I even went online and ordered a generator on my iPhone through Amazon and it arrived before we got our power back so I was even able to use it. We have cable and high speed internet through the cable so a landline is not needed. I haven't missed the landline once in the last few years (I also gave my cell phone number to the state's emergency alert system so I can be reached with emergency notifications).
Carol McKenzie October 08, 2012 at 06:29 PM
i prefer the reliability of my land line, so I'll be hanging onto it for quite awhile. plus, i'm not all too convinced that cellphones are that safe to hold next to my head for long periods of time. ....

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