Episode 50: October 24, 2012
by Eric Escobar
Who doesn’t have a cell phone these days? It would actually be tough to find someone who doesn’t have some sort of mobile device. This brings up a question many households are asking:
“Do we really need a landline anymore?”
This question is one that I’ve had to help my parents answer in recent months and thought it would make a great podcast topic for my listeners.
Why You Should Get Rid of Your Landline
So let’s go over some of the obvious arguments why you would want to get rid of your landline. First off is the price. It isn’t unusual for a phone line to cost over $40 a month and in the course of a year, that comes to almost $500. Now you’re probably thinking, “Great podcast Tech Talker. I could have figured that out myself. If it’s that expensive and unnecessary, I should just ditch it, right?”
Not so fast! There are some benefits to having a landline that may not be so obvious at first glance.
Why You Should NOT Get Rid of Your Landline
The first things to consider are how the members of your household would get along without a landline. While you might have your fancy new smartphone, there may be others in your family who do not have a cell phone (such as young children, or the elderly) and who use the landline as their primary telephone. In the case of an elderly person, they may only know how to use a landline and may not want to learn how to use a cell phone.
Next, think of how convenient it is to have multiple phones throughout the house. If your home phone rings in the kitchen, odds are you also have one in the bedroom, the living room, the office, etc. So there’s no need to dig through seat cushions, or miss an important call, because you accidentally left your cell phone on silent.
Then, there is your phone number. If your family is anything like mine, then I bet you’ve had the same home phone number for quite some time. This means that even though the people you contact most often will have your mobile number, what about those distant relatives or long lost friends who only have your home phone? Turning off your landline could make reaching you rather difficult!
Though all of these are valid points, let’s face it, they’re pretty weak. They are at worst an inconvenience and at this point many of you probably aren’t convinced that any of these reasons are compelling enough to merit an annual bill of $500.
This leads me to some of the bigger reasons why you may not want to cut that landline off just yet. Let’s say you have an emergency situation and you call 911. If you were to call from you cell phone, a dispatcher may not be able to tell where you are calling from. But with a landline, a 911 dispatcher can pinpoint exactly where the call is coming from because it is static and does not move around like your cell phone might. Your landline phone number is directly related to your address, so if you were to call 911 and leave the phone off the hook during an emergency, a dispatcher would not need to get your address from you in order to send help, which might save precious minutes.
Next, think about a large scale disaster such as September 11th, 2001. During that awful time, cell towers were jammed with traffic, making it next to impossible for people to get a call through and make sure that loved ones were safe and sound.
So how does an older, land-based telephone network still have an edge on the cellular network? Well, the answer is generally age and usage. On September 11th, many people tried their preferred method of communication, which was generally a cell phone. This heavy use of the cell network is what caused it to jam. Sure, some landlines were also bogged down from sheer volume, but there was a far greater chance that landline calls would get through.
How to Decide the Fate of Your Landline
Landlines are generally better during emergencies, when you may need them the most. They are flexible, always on, and everyone knows how to use them. The downside is that you will be paying for the monthly convenience of owning one.
If you have a tight budget and seldom receive phone calls on a home phone, then it might be worth considering retiring that landline.
If you’re still on the fence about this decision, I suggest unplugging your landline for a month. Leave all your accounts active and intact, simply unplug the phone from the wall. If you find yourself missing your phone, you may not be ready for separation. If, however, you don’t even notice its absence, then perhaps it’s time to cut the cord.
And just in case you were curious, my Mom opted to keep the home phone because she didn’t want to lose the phone number she has had for over two decades. Although she has a smartphone, she still likes having the insurance policy of the landline in case of emergencies!
Well, that’s it for today. Be sure to check out all my posts at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!
Woman Using Phone and Old Fashioned Telephone images from Shutterstock