Are Landlines Doomed to Extinction?
Millions of people are cutting the cords of landline phone service and switching to cellular or VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol). If you’re one of the holdouts, you may be forced to give up you copper-based phone line in the next 5 to 10 years. Here is why landlines are doomed, and a look at four alternatives so commonplace you can buy them at Walmart…
Landline Alternatives May Soon Be The Only Alternatives
Forty-three percent of U.S. adults lived in households served only by cell phones as of June, 2014. The chart below (courtesy of Pew Research) shows how the wireless-only trend has accelerated since 2008. But that’s only part of the story.
A report from Statista shows the number of households using VoIP devices (Vonage, Ooma, Magic Jack, etc.) since 2011. There are 20.5 million as of Spring, 2015, or 16% of all U. S. households. Certainly, there must be many households that have both cellular and VoIP service; but the point is that both have made serious dents in landline subscriber numbers, and the trend lines are clearly pointing upwards.
I can’t even estimate the number of cable customers who have given up their traditional landlines in favor of “voice over cable” service. Many have done so without even realizing it. If you’re using phone service that’s bundled with cable TV and Internet service, you’re using VoiP even if it’s delivered via a hardwired cable modem.
But many cable customers take the “triple play” only because it’s the cheapest option, and continue to use their traditional landlines. In the near future, we may not have that ability.
AT&T, Verizon, and other telephone companies want to ditch the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) and move everyone to either cellular or VoIP services. The copper wire network that first came into widespread use in the late 19th century is ancient and deteriorating. Telcos don’t want to spend money maintaining a network that customers are abandoning in ever-increasing numbers. So the telcos are trying to end POTS service.
The FCC and the States are inclined to go along. So the writing is on the wall; traditional landlines will be unavailable in most of the USA within 5-10 years. Fortunately, there are plenty of landline alternatives like these:
Some Landline Alternatives to Consider
Vonage: a pioneer of residential VoIP, Vonage provides a “Vonage adapter” - actually, a router optimized for VoIP - that plugs into your broadband modem. Then you plug a traditional phone (or cordless phone base station) into the Vonage adapter. The Vonage adapter requires its own power supply from an AC outlet. Right now, the adapter is free and service is $9.99/month for the first 12 months; if you keep Vonage longer, the price is $24.99 per month.
Ooma Telo: provides an adapter, like Vonage, into which any regular phone can be plugged. Ooma’s pricing model is virtually the opposite of Vonage’s. The Ooma adapter costs $129.99 ($114.00 at Walmart) while the basic service is free. So after the initial investment, you pay almost nothing on a monthly basis. (You’ll still pay about $3.50 per month in taxes and fees to the government.) Ooma even encrypts your calls while their data travels over the Internet. Various hardware accessories and a Premier plan can boost your upfront and monthly cost.
Magic Jack Go: is an unassuming little dongle about the size of two USB drives side by side. One end sports a USB connector; the other has jacks for Ethernet and telephone cables (RJ-45 and RJ-11, respectively). You can use a supplied Ethernet cable to connect the Magic Jack directly to a cable or DSL modem, or plug the USB connector into an available port on an Internet-connected PC. The hardware costs $59.95 ($39.95 until January 9, 2016) and includes a year of free service. After that, you pay just $35 per year, or $99.75 for five years.
Straight Talk Home Phone is not a VoIP service, like all the others discussed above. Straight Talk Wireless is a reseller of Verizon cellular service. Straight Talk’s Home Phone device is a cellular base station. Just place it in your home where it gets a strong cellular signal, then plug your corded phone or cordless base station into it. Your calls are relayed from the base station to cell towers and back. The Home Phone base station costs $49.88 at Walmart. Monthly service is $15 for unlimited domestic calling, or $30 adds Canada, Mexico, India, and other countries.
With each of these options, your existing home phone number can be transferred (or "ported") to the new service, so people can continue to reach you on the same number.
What About Emergencies?
Some security systems still rely on landlines to contact emergency services. But modern ones use cellular connectivity. And even if you have VoIP phone service, you can still make 911 calls. When you register with Vonage or another VoIP provider, you must register your residential address with the company, which is used when a 911 call is made.
Power issues are another concern. When the electricity fails, landlines typically continue to operate, as long as the lines (and your home) are not damaged by a storm. Most residential VoIP providers offer some sort of battery backup, but it's limited to about 8 hours. In a severe or extended emergency where both landline and VoIP are unavailable, a cell phone that you can charge in your car is a must, and may be your only option.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Dec 2015
|For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.|
12 Things Not To Buy In 2016
The Top Twenty
Windows Smartscreen Gets Smarter
There's more reader feedback... See all 48 comments for this article.
Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions
Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005
- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Article information: AskBobRankin -- Are Landlines Doomed to Extinction? (Posted: 28 Dec 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved