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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

Rebecca Smith October 12, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I'm disappointed there have been no comments left in 3 days because I've been debating this issue with myself. I've kept a corded landline for emergency use, reducing the monthly cost from at&t to $16 (incoming calls still free but I'd pay per minute for any outgoing calls), just in case cell towers go down in a storm. Also at&t cell service is not good in my basement, where my bedroom is (doesn't seem to me at&t made any improvement to service when they took over Cingular--signal reception has gotten marginally better because phones have gotten better). This also allows me to still have use of my fax machine, altho I don't use it very often.

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