Seriously, Get Rid of Your Landline

by Thursday Bram on 24 January 2013 21 comments
Photo: Furryscaly

Do you still have a telephone that plugs into the wall of your house? As of June 2012, 34% of households in the U.S. have gone wireless only, according to the U.S. National Health Information Study. That percentage will only go up in the coming years — over 59% of 25- to 29-year-olds live in homes without landlines.

From a financial perspective, it’s hard to justify setting up a new landline if you already pay a cell phone bill every month. Depending on the package, a landline can cost between $180 and $480 every year. That can mean big savings if you already have a landline and want to get rid of it, too. (See also: Why I Like My Flip Phone)

The Ubiquity of Cell Phones

As a culture, we like cell phones. There are still some issues we’re working out — like how young is too young for a cell phone — but, in general, it’s not an unreasonable assumption that if you’re reading this article, you have a cell phone. In fact, CTIA reported in 2012 that there are more mobile subscriptions in the U.S. than there are people living in the country.

Why would you want to keep a landline if you are statistically likely to already have a cell phone in your hand? Since most people who want to reach you probably call your cell directly, your reasons might include concerns about safety.

What About Emergency Response?

Up until recently, one of the biggest issues was whether emergency responders could find someone calling from a cell phone. In the event that a person called 911, but was unable to give their location, a cell phone does not necessarily provide an address. However, newer cell phones incorporate E911 capability, which allows a service provider to give data about location to emergency responders.

What About Cell Phone Reliability?

There’s also a concern that cell phones may be less reliable than landlines.

In general, reliability has increased since cell phones were first introduced, although there are still some places where you just won’t get great reception. In emergencies, it’s often possible that either, or even both, wired or wireless phone service will be disrupted, so choosing between the two is a bit of a wash.

There are some systems that may seem to require a phone line, like fax machines and alarm systems. But just about every system has a wireless alternative these days. It may take a little research to find options, but saving a few hundred dollars each year is worth it.

Is There Any Reason to Keep Your Landline?

For some people keeping a landline may still make sense. The most obvious reason is if you don’t have a cell phone already. If you’ve managed to make it this long without a cell phone, by all means, stick to what’s working for you!

Some locations are still not very cell phone friendly. Because of the realities of geography and location of cell towers, there are still some places that are effectively dead zones for cell connections. If your home is in once such place, you’ll need to have a landline or another alternative, such as Skype or other VOIP services.

There are also some very specific situations that still require a landline; for instance, people with pacemakers must have access to a landline for monitoring purposes (using a specialized interface, doctors can monitor pacemakers over the phone).

If you’re not comfortable with not having a landline for any reason and the cost isn’t an issue, make the decision that you’re comfortable with. But if you don’t need a landline and no special situations apply, it’s worth considering getting rid of yours.

Have you dropped your landline telephone service? If not, why not?

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Guest's picture

I would never get rid of my landline. Why? Power outages! We've had several extended power outages caused by bad storms - including one that also knocked out cell phone towers. My cell phone was pretty useless to me during these times.

While those outages don't happen often, I feel the security of a landline is worth every penny.

Don't forget that cell phones require electricity for charging, accessories, and upgrades. You can still use a basic landline phone from 1990 today. You can't say that about a cell phone from 1990.

I love having a cell phone, but I still think there's a place in the world for landlines. And if you get a very basic package, it's not that expensive to have one.

Guest's picture
Lazygal

I've considered dropping my landline but then something like Hurricane Sandy happens, I lose power for a week, and suddenly having a landline makes sense! If power lines and cell connectivity were as reliable as my phone connection, I'd drop in a minute.

Guest's picture
Emily Randall

We got rid of the land line six years ago, and haven't regretted it for a moment. The change has saved us hundreds if not a thousand dollars and vastly reduced commercial intrusions into our home. And we're not young, either.

Guest's picture
Guest

Not now, nor any time soon. (1) My landline phones live on charger bases; battery life is never an issue. (2) I live in a two-story house. When my cell phone is being charged (or I leave it on a table somewhere) it can only be on one floor while I may be on the other. My landline phones are on both floors all the time. (3) Sometimes my wife and I both want to talk to someone. With landline phones, we don't have to be in the same room (in our two-story house) and put up with the vagaries of being on speakerphone. (4) When somebody just wants to talk to one of us, the landline is a number that we both can answer - no need to try one then the other.

Guest's picture
Sid

Children at home necessitate a land line. I'm not buying my son a cell phone yet and the land line is his only access to emergency services should any emergency arise and we are not near or are the victims.

Guest's picture
Strick

My hearing is not the greatest (its a clarity thing, not a volume thing). I've tried different cell phones and have still yet to find one as clear as a landline (I conduct a lot of business on the phone, and dont want to be huh'ing? all the time, so try to always take these calls on landline).

As soon as my cell phone clarity matches the landline, I'll ditch it. (any advice on what cell phone does that I'll take). But given how cheap landline service has become, I've never considered it that big an issue.

Guest's picture
Rachelle

Same for me. I live in a large metropolitan area and have good hearing, but talking on a cell phone is still like talking to Europe in the 1980s -- jumpy, scratchy, annoying. My cell phone is okay for information calls but for a long chat with my out-of-town family, there's no substitute (yet). Same problem with Skype, it ruins the natural flow for conversation because it doesn't allow any overlaps. Besides, my elderly parents don't have a computer.

Guest's picture
Bill

I need a fax machine at home. Cell phones don't work for that.

Guest's picture
Kent

Couple comments:

1. I use my landline on occasion for sending and receiving faxes. Yes...I know, old technology but for things like sending receipts to my cafeteria plan manager it is either fax or put them in snail mail.

2. I also keep the land line for my kids for the reasons already mentioned. I'm not going to buy cell phones for the 6 and 9 year olds any time soon.

3. If you are keeping your landline for emergency purposes make sure you have an old style corded phone stuck in a drawer someplace. All those cordless phones will go dead in a power outage. Doesn't matter if they still have battery charge, the transmitter units that send the signal to your cordless phones must be plugged into the wall to work. If your power goes out all cordless phones will go dead. Pick up an old corded phone at Wal-Mart for $5 and toss it in a drawer for emergencies.

Guest's picture
Guest

While newer cell phones may have E911, the real question is whether the municipality (PSAP= Public Safety Answering Point) has the technology to read the E911 data. Many PSAPs are working on outdated information.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm considering getting rid of my cellphone, actually. They are generally more expensive, although I save money by using a TracFone, and that minimally. I do not need to be in touch with the world constantly. I pity those who feel the need to be plugged in at all times, although I understand its addictive pull. My land line might cost me $120/year, and my current cellphone usage is about the same. I understand that many people pay near that much per month for the cellphones. I guess if you have disposable income, that's your choice, not mine.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've recently read on here that some phone companies have a "warming line" (I think it's called) so even if you don't pay for their service, if you have a phone plugged into your wall you can still get 911 services.

I dropped my land line almost two years ago. It was a waste of money. The phone company charges way too much for it. My husband and I each have a cell phone. He pays $46 a month, and I pay less than $25. I could drop that to under $5 a month, but I choose to pay for unlimited texting.

If the power went out I have a solar powered/wind up radio that also has the capability to charge cell phones. If the cell tower went out it's not a big deal. We can survive alone in our home for months, and the hospital is only 15 minutes away.

Guest's picture

I saw some of the other comments about the need for a land line during a storm or such, and it is a valid point. Yet, I feel like that's a once in s blue moon thing and if you have a cell phone, which most likely you do, then I feel almost 100% certain that while you're at home you're also receiving and making calls on it. That land line is just some extra money that you can save.

Guest's picture

I have a landline as part of a Comcast bundle. Every 6 months or so, I check in about the cost of my bundle and ask about eliminating the landline, and every time, I'm told I'm actually saving money by keeping it because of the deal it gets me. My landline won't work if there's a power outage, etc., but I use it often and like having it around.

Guest's picture

Your landline should work when the power is out - you just need to get a plain, old school phone (not a cordless) to plug into the jack. You can get one at Target or Walmart for about $10.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hurricane Sandy. No cell reception for days. My neighbors without landlines were coming to my house to make calls. It's worth it.

Guest's picture

Landlines are also useful when setting up home alarm systems. In addition, there are natural disaster situations when a landline would be much more reliable than a cell phone. In terms of savings, I would advocate trying to save on the cell phone package (i.e. reduce minutes, unlimited data, text messages etc) instead of getting rid of a landline,

Guest's picture

My mom says she's keeping her landline because her cable package costs the same with or without a landline, but she never uses it for anything productive and more than half of the calls that come in are telemarketers or calls with no one on the other end! Its more of a hassle to listen to the phone ring and check messages to delete than it is to just cancel the landline- its useless.

Guest's picture

"CTIA reported in 2012 that there are more mobile subscriptions in the U.S. than there are people living in the country." -- Can we just stop for a moment and contemplate that piece of information? That's amazing. More mobile subscriptions than people?

Given that many people in the nation are either under the age of 10 (and therefore unlikely to have a cell phone), or elderly, or live in a very rural area without good cellular reception, that means that a very large sliver of the demographic that DOES own a mobile phone must own multiple phone subscriptions. I wonder why? Perhaps some people have one for work and one that's personal. Others may have an automatically-billed subscription that they forgot about, but that's a small enough amount that they don't notice it. Regardless of the reason, I think that's a pretty interesting statistic.

Guest's picture
Zach

The opposition I've seen most people have to making this move is that they're attached to their old number (at least, that's what my parents said). But, eventually I got 'em. Here's how:

There's a company called Landline Assassin that will set things up so you can cancel your home phone and have the number forward automatically to your cell phone. All the benefits of no landline, without losing the number.

You can check them out here: http://landlineassassin.com/

Guest's picture
Anonymous

4 letters: VOIP