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 our 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 echoes, 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

Jim Merchant October 08, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I gave up the land-line phone almost 10 years ago when new to Brandywine Condos. Since then the Verizon signal is worse, but still okay for calling. I must admit though that I spend little time on the phone talking. No regrets!
Torie Randolph Johnson October 08, 2012 at 03:58 PM
We gave up our land line over a year ago, for many of the same reasons it sounds like you did. Then Sprint began to change things in our area, and since we just signed a new contract we are stuck with bad service. Even the local Sprint employees are having the exact same problems; dropped calls, echoing on the line, undelivered texts and calls. They refuse to let us out of the contract even though the service they provide is sub-par, and my husband has spent too many hours to count trying to rectify the situation. So with your decision be careful. I would also try hard not to sign a new contract with your cell provider, months and counting left of our bad contract.
Jennifer Hunter October 08, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Hi Cami, We too wonder if it is worth it..keeping a Landline phone. Some of our friends just have a cell phone and there are still quite a few that still have both. Every time I call my Sister in California...she asks to call back on her cell.......It must be the cost of minutes on her landline. So, we are still thinking about it....Great Article Cami!
J. Lippi October 08, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Ben Rodriguez October 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Good article. My wife and I have considered doing away with our landline phone but fear getting delayed response when calling 911 (we have three young kids) is what makes us choose to keep it. That said, it rarely gets used and at that, mostly for annoying polling questions or solicitations.
Jim Merchant October 09, 2012 at 10:43 AM
One special note I left out of my original comment - when dropping the land line, Verizon rolled over my Suffield number. So I have a 668 number on my cell, a fact that many businesses find startling!
Foomax October 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
the telephone is no longer a tethered building-centric devise. it's a personal communications device now. We too shut the home phone years ago and don't miss it in the least. If your bundled phone/web/tv service is with COX they'll give you the song and dance about separated services costing more but say the magic words "Direct TV" and you'll reduce your monthly bill by $30. like we did.


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