The Days of Land Lines are Numbered

If you’re like most people, you’re currently paying for a home phone bill and a cell phone bill. It’s likely that everyone in your family has a cell phone. Even when they’re home.

Are we like frogs in boiling water?

Sometime in the last ten years, cell phones have crept into the status quo and become a necessity. We’re a culture of instant accessibility, constant connectiveness, and – dare I say – status (my cell phone is cooler than your cell phone!).

Along the way, land lines have remained as a legacy of the days we used to be reachable only after 5.

The Only Reason I Still Have One

There’s only one reason I still keep my land line, and one I’m quickly getting over – is spammers. A short glance at my home call logs reveals 800 numbers throughout the day.

My home phone is a catch-all for telemarketers…

Absolutely no one else calls me at home. The only outgoing calls I make are when my cell phone is out of reach or dead. (Charge it, stupid!).

Update, October 2009: Seeing a significant drop-off in telemarketing calls to my home number, and still very little use of the phone, I made the final decision to cancel Vonage home service and go cell-only.

The Rise of the Wireless Phone

The proliferation of cell phones has all but obliterated the need for a home phone. Ironically for many, it’s also obliterated the need for an office phone, for better or worse.

It’s also simplified how we communicate – we’re available at one phone number and nowhere else. If we answer, we can talk.

Our mobile pals alert us about missed calls and messages. Gone are the days of checking the answering machine when you get home at night.

Goodbye, Phone Company

Customers are leaving phone companies in droves. The high price of home service, which now largely goes unused, is an amazing motivator. The recession is a fantastic prioritizer.

VOIP services like Vonage arrived on the scene early this decade with the promise of cheap home service. But their prices are creeping up too, and they’re still extra expenses.

Lost most of all is the opportunity cost of that cash, even if it’s recycled into upgrading your cell phone service to ‘make up’ for the added use you’ll put on it.

Can Anything Save the Home Phone?

I doubt it. We become more mobile every day, and exponentially so. However, there remain a few segments of the population that will continue to use home phones.

It won’t be the ones that can’t afford wireless, as basic plans become cheaper and more accessible, and often less expensive than home service.

Home phone use will largely be based on demographics and life style. The elderly with no desire to use a cell phone and 95% of their time spent at home have good use for it. Work-at-home families will use them as office phones.

People with needs to call internationally may find a safe haven in them. And homes with security systems often need a land line to operate (although alternatives are coming out!).

An older co-worker also pointed out a pretty good reason keep a true land line – it still works after a hurricane. Touche, my friend. We are in Florida, after all. (He also said I would have to pry the phone from his hands before he gave it up).

For the rest of us, I think it’s time to wave goodbye to the phone company.

Photo by tylerturden1

13 thoughts on “The Days of Land Lines are Numbered

  1. Faxes, I can’t fax from my cell phone, at least not that I have figured out. Maybe there is an app for that.. You could probably use an online scan & fax type deal but my home phone still has at least that one use.

  2. Very true! As a side note, the last time I was helping a family member’s business get set up, I recommended an online fax service. For mass faxing, easy filing, and saving a lot of paper, I think it’s the way to go.

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  4. I agree 100%. We gave up our land line nearly 3 years ago and haven’t missed it at all, but we live in a large metropolitan area.

    I have family in the Midwest wehre geography may still be a reason for some to keep the land line; at least until there are enough cell towers to cover the rural areas of the U.S.

    1. As I pointed out on Twitter last night, hopefully the Verizon “army” is busy putting up cell towers everywhere. 🙂

      We will probably be closing out our land line service in the next few months…

  5. I’d love to ditch our land line, but reception in our house (on Verizon) is terrible. In fact, reception from room to room varies. I assume that this is due to the construction materials used 90 years ago when our house was built. So unless we move, we will have a land line as long as they are available.

    1. I see bad reception is almost a universal complaint. 🙂

      For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed that every time I upgrade to a newer generation of cell phone, my reception strength goes up significantly.

      For those of you in rural areas, the cell towers are probably a bigger factor.

    2. My family/friends have horrible reception on their Verizon cell phones when they visit me and I live in a 4 year old townhouse, so I’m not sure why that is. My niece found that she could get clear reception in my upstairs bathroom or if you stand as close as possible to the sliding glass door!

  6. I love my land line. No Contract, $50/month unlimited calling 24/7, and if the power goes out (FL Storms?) my phone often still has power (unlike the hosed cell towers).

    I don’t like being tethered to a cell. Though I use T-Mobile’s ToGo plan, I miss the days when not being available was acceptable.

    1. If it was my only form of communication, I would have no qualms about the price.

      But I think what bugs me is that I’m paying twice for phone service (land and cell), when for me the services really overlap most of the time.

      Because I like the convenience of a cell phone, I am not willing to give that up, so my options are to keep both, or just the cell.

      (My land line is useless in a storm anyway because it’s VOIP).

      On a related note, I think the days of being unavailable are “cool” again. I, for one, don’t answer my cell phone if I’m doing something else.

  7. My landline got through during 9/11. The celltowers crapped out under the volume that day.

    My landline worked when the Northeast was blacked out for a day (along with the cell towers). Especially useful if you needed to call 911, for example.

    My landline doesn’t charge me minutes to be on hold for 3 hours (yes! literally) during the day on a toll free number while I try to resolve a billing issue.

    My landline does not have reception or audio problems. It’s REALLY loud — ringer and during the call.

    My landline gives me access to cheap DSL. (I’m aware of the naked DSL option, but the cost comes out about the same, sans landline. Why pay for naked DSL when you can get DSL + landline for about the same price?)

    If I need to get through to my parents, and they turned their cell phones off for the night / forgot to charge it, I can usually get through via their landline.

    My landline has been with my family for over 30 years.

    There are no concerns about radiation exposure for people who like to talk on the phone for several hours a day.

    That’s plenty of reasons to hang on to the landline, even though I have a cellphone.

    A cell phone just does not compare for reliability, reception, clarity of audio. Not to mention health concerns for big talkers.

    And BTW, I’m based in New York City, where cell phone reception is usually not an issue.

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