Why I'm keeping a landline
Call me a dinosaur, but I have several compelling reasons to own a wired-in telephone. Here's why I don't want to cut the cord.
In 2012 nearly 36% of U.S. households had no landline but at least one wireless phone, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Five years before that the figure was 10.5%.
Call me a dinosaur: My partner and I have a corded landline plus three cordless extensions.
We also have cellphones, sort of: a pay-as-you go model for him (which rarely gets used) and a 5-year-old flip phone for me (hint: I have never sent a text).
While I realize that landlines aren't for everyone, we have several compelling reasons to keep a phone attached to the wall. They might be reasons you haven't considered, so think them over before deciding to ditch your own old-timey telephone.
Chief among the reasons: Several older relatives and friends have hearing issues and thus have trouble understanding conversation conducted via cellphone. We want to talk to them, and we can't do it wirelessly.
Sometimes cell calls can be hard even for a person with no hearing impairment. Sometimes the voices fade in and out or static will overwhelm the line. (This happens outside Alaska, too, so I can't blame geography.)
Equally important is knowing that if there's an emergency, help will find us: Landlines are attached to addresses. While visiting my dad last summer I accidentally pressed a pre-programmed 911 button on his phone before hanging it up. A state trooper called back to see if everything was all right -- and he verified the home address.
Now imagine that your mom is stricken while babysitting your preschooler, who knows how to dial 911 on Grandma's cell -- but who doesn't know his home address. Minutes lost can mean a life lost.
That sounds hypervigilant, I know. But nobody expects to have a heart attack or to fall off the stepladder while changing a light bulb. Having a landline for emergencies is like having car insurance policy: We pay for it and hope we never really need it.
A phone I can count on
Landlines almost always work during power failures. Last year an early-autumn windstorm caused outages that lasted up to three days. As a home-based writer, I need reliable phone service. If the power goes out on a day when I have interviews scheduled, I'll still be able to do them.
Sure, I could use my cell. But with a land line I don't need to worry about the cell battery dying after the second interview, or about going over my allotted minutes.
However, some landlines may stop working during a power outage, according to Consumer Reports. "Today's VoIP and fiber (optic) systems typically provide up to eight hours of standby service, and then only if they're equipped with an in-home battery backup. Otherwise, the phones go dead," the magazine editors say.
A cellphone would be useful at such a time, assuming that cellular networks don't fail (remember Hurricane Irene?) and that you can recharge your cell battery.
The Consumer Reports article link has a thorough explanation of the issue, and tips on staying connected during outages.
More reasons to consider
Some people ditch their landlines to save money. I understand that. According to Bankrate.com, some consumers can save between $180 and $240 per year by going cell-only.
But it isn't always cheaper, so do the math before you cut the cord. Some people who give up landlines actually wind up returning to a combination of wired and wireless. One couple interviewed by MSN Money pays $46 each month -- about half the cost of the previous cell bill -- for a stripped-down landline and a prepaid cell.
Your carrier probably has a bare-bones landline plan, too, but you have to ask for it in very specific terms. The customer service reps are there to get you to amp up your Internet speed or add extra channels, not to lead you directly to the simplest, cheapest plan.
So don't say "I'm trying to save money on a landline." Instead, specify that you're looking for the most no-frills phone service you can get -- no bells, no whistles.
Finally, here are three more reasons to stick with a landline:
You always know where the phone is. How many times have you heard your cellphone buzzing but not been able to find it? Sometimes I temporarily lose track of an extension but (a) there are two others as well as the corded one and (b) it can't get far on foot -- eventually, it will be found. Returning to emergencies for a moment: If a family member keeled over and you needed to call 911, how much time would you want to waste looking for your cell? (Especially if you left it in your car, or on your desk at work?)
Your cell remains yours. If your kids aren't old enough for their own cellphones -- or if you don't want your kids to have them -- point them toward the landline when they want to talk with friends. (They'll have to use the dinosaur phone, because Big Meanie Dinosaur Parents won't let them text.) Your battery -- and your plan minutes -- don't wind up drained.
All incoming calls are free. Even if it isn't 9 p.m. yet. Take that, cell companies!
Readers: Do you still have a landline? Why or why not?
More on MSN Money:
I continue to have a landline for one primary reason, and multiple secondary ones. The primary reason is that my high speed internet is provided by Verizon, and that is by far the cheapest internet service available. $20.00/month, as opposed to $69.00/month with anyone else, and a $20,000 hookup fee with Time Warner Cable. (I live out in the country where we do not have fiber optic cable yet!)
A secondary reason is that I only get cell service in the east half of my house, and that service is spotty. In the winter, when the leaves are off the trees, I get ok service, in the summer, I have to go out in the yard to be able to get reliable cell service.
The marketers for the mobile phone industry have done a great job convincing millions of people that their product is a must have item. The truth is, most people could get by fine without one, but human nature being what it is many people have to keep up with the latest gadget because "everybody else has one". I recall the early days of cell phones when the user let it be known and seen that they owned one.
8/28/13 I made a serious inquiry into buying a Smart Phone recently. Not only No but Hell No !
There is No Way I'm going to pay out $300.00 for a Smart Phone then $70.00 per month for a service.
I'll stick with My DEPENDABLE EASY TO HEAR Landline & my prepaid $100.00 per Year Cell Phone.
Question ? How in the Hell does a Jobless TeenAger & No Income afford one of these Smart Phones ? SPW in Alaska
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