Landlines: Artifact of the 20th century?

GivePeasAChance, via Flickr (CC license)
Blast from the past.

On one discussion group I belong to, the question recently came up about whether members of the group had abandoned “landline” telephones entirely in their homes.

Actually, right now I’m in the process of trying out a VOIP service — and if it works to my satisfaction for a few months, I’ll move my phone number over to it and ditch my landline. (And if I eventually find a mobile phone and carrier plan that suits me, I may abandon VOIP too.)

My colleague Gary Rosenzweig of CleverMedia made an interesting comment: “I’ve got a couple of young people working for me that have never owned a land line in their lives. They say none of their friends do either.”

Make sense. Why should they? It seems to me that the one advantage of a landline is that it works when the power goes out and the cells are down — as long as the whole phone system hasn’t crashed. But is that emergency capability worth paying $25-$30/month for? I don’t know about you, but I live in a fairly compact neighborhood where some of my neighbors are keeping their landlines and would let me make outgoing calls or give their number in an emergency. So I feel no need to keep a landline of my own for emergency communication.

And anyway, I figure if you’re serious about wanting emergency communication, get an amateur radio license.

What about you? Have you given up landlines? What about people you know? And does age seem to be a factor? Please comment below.

8 thoughts on Landlines: Artifact of the 20th century?

  1. I´m sure you will follow this trend, which in Finland, where I live, has happened years ago. I have given up landlines around 2000 and since live with mobiles and broadband. Of course almost every kid has their own mobile phone. And age do not matter any more. My parents retired three years ago and at the same time gave up landlines which was useless when they were happy mobile phone users. Welcome to the future.

  2. My husband and I (ages 50 and 40, respectively) switched over to VOIP about two years ago. We almost never answer our land line; we really only have it for our alarm system, our TiVo, and occasional outgoing calls.

  3. Amy, I’m with Matti here, unsurprisingly, since I also live in Finland. My freelance business is run entirely on my PC and by mobile phone. My wife’s parents gave their landline up years ago and switched to mobile. Th big factor here, on top of the prohibitive cost of landlines, is the extremely cheap mobile call and line rental rates – I don’t know how it compares to the US, but average per month line rental on mobile here is less than €1 and call rates average about 0.069 € per min.

    I too will switch to VoIP once I have a reliable VoIP ‘mobile’ phone that I don’t need my PC switched on to use!

  4. I live about 20 miles from NYC and still remember the way the cellphone system crashed on 9/11. While I moved my main home phone line to a cable modem over the summer, I still have a second line run through the local phone company. It costs me about $40/month (gross)/$25 (net over what it would cost to add that line to my cable phone) to keep that second line, but I don’t mind paying that relatively small cost for the added security. My cable phone has an 8-hour battery backup, but we have had storm-related power outages in my area that have been longer than that. Maybe it’s a generational thing (I’m 49).

  5. I’m constantly frustrated in trying to do a quality radio show and podcast that so few people have ready access to land-lines. All of the other options for remote interviews, such as cell phones or VOIP, have drastically poorer sound quality some or all of the time. I’ve never recorded an interview where the remote party is on a cell phone and found the quality adequately clear after the MP3 compression and then listening in noisy environments like a car, train, or plane.

    I also have a cell phone and use it daily, but when I want to have a more relaxed conversation with somebody, you can’t beat land-lines for reliably good audio quality and lack of annoying time delay. That is, if both parties are using good-quality wired phones, and not these junky cordless ones that seem to be mostly all you can buy at consumer outlets.

    I’ll also echo the other poster who said that wired phones are a much simpler technology which are more likely to work during some widespread emergency. Earthquakes or fires here in California, for example.

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