Do You Still Need A Landline?
Between mobile phone service and free VoIP options such as Skype, does anyone really need to keep paying for a traditional landline? Many families have decided they don’t. But before you cut that cord, there are some things you'll need to consider...
Is a Phone Company Landline Still Necessary?
As you look for ways to trim your household budget, your gaze may fall on that dusty landline telephone languishing in the corner of the kitchen. The bill continues to arrive each month, even though it's rarely used. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, and free internet calling options abound. (See my article about Free Internet Phone Calls.) So do you really need to keep that old-school landline active?
Overall, about a quarter of Americans have ditched landlines. Landline-only households fell from 34 per cent to 13 per cent between 2005 and 2010. About 29 per cent of children live in homes without landline service. About 40 per cent of poverty-level households rely on wireless phones alone. Nearly 18 per cent of households receive nearly all of their calls on wireless phones despite having landlines. Still, there are some good reasons to maintain a home landline.
RELIABILITY: Landlines provide redundant protection against service interruptions. They don’t depend on household power or batteries (except for cordless phones). Internet service and cellular towers may be knocked out by natural disasters or power failures, while landlines are more likely to continue functioning.
Given the popularity of mobile phones and carriers’ reluctance to invest in adequate infrastructure, it is not surprising to see network overloads during natural disasters or power outages. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, cellular phone service was knocked out for several days along the eastern U.S. coast. The well established landline network’s capacity is not as strained during emergencies, and is more resilient to damage, as much of the copper wire infrastructure is underground.
EMERGENCY SERVICES: When you call 911, a landline automatically provides your physical address directly to dispatchers, speeding the arrival of police, fire, or medical assistance. Commercial VoIP (internet phone) services such as Vonage may have emergency service, but it may not be available in some areas. If you use a free VoIP service such as Skype or Google Voice, forget about E-911.
Cellular services may not precisely pinpoint a caller’s location; they may be off by a dozen blocks. Emergency dispatchers then have to get location data from panicked, error-prone callers; in certain cases, callers are not even capable of speaking.
WARNING, DANGER! Another consideration is alarm and monitoring systems. If you have a system that automatically calls police, fire or other emergency services, it probably relies on landline service. Some systems can work with VoIP phone service, but that assumes you've got power and a working Internet connection.
It’s best to think of a landline as optional insurance. Evaluate the risks in your own household. Do power outages happen often? Do you get “network busy” errors or dropped wireless calls frequently? What is your VoIP provider’s emergency service provision? What is your tolerance for risk? Having a nearby neighbor with a landline may be a mitigating factor. And of course, if you keep a landline, you should also have a corded phone that doesn’t require an electrical outlet or battery.
Weigh these factors against the cost of a landline carefully. And remember that mobile phone service is not necessarily cheaper, especially if you have multiple phones in the household. (See my related article Five Cheap Mobile Phone Plans, if you want to explore low-cost options.)
Have you cut the landline cord? Was there a downside? And did it save you money? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Feb 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do You Still Need A Landline? (Posted: 28 Feb 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved