My twenty-something year old son recently expressed surprise that we still have an “old school” landline in our home. With his iPhone never more than a hair’s breadth away from him, he sees no need. Many household are dropping their landlines as a cost saving measure.
Here are some considerations to weigh when deciding whether to switch to a cell phone only household:
- Calling 911 – If you call emergency services from a landline, your address is automatically provided to the dispatcher. This precision is not currently possible from a mobile phone. In the event that you have an emergency that makes talking difficult (hopefully unlikely!), it is nice to know that the EMTs will have your address regardless.
- Do you always have your cell phone at the ready? – If you are a millennial, your phone is your constant companion and follows you from sofa, to bedroom and even bathroom. But if you keep your cell phone in a purse or don’t think to carry it with you from room to room, it could be a problem if you have to think where you left the phone before you use it.
- Those long hold waits for customer service – I like to put the phone on speaker and set it down while on hold for customer service. While this is certainly possible from a cell phone, it somehow feels less convenient to me.
- There is no 411 or White Pages for cell phone numbers – Before dropping the landline, think about who you will need to provide your cell phone number to. Friends, family, doctors and others that you do business with will need your new contact number. And consider too that there is no published ‘telephone book’ for cell phones – either online or in print. (This might be a benefit or a hinderance depending on your perspective!)
- Power outages – It used to be the case that a non-cordless landline (e.g., an old princess-style phone) would work during a power failure. Verizon and other major carriers are switching from old-fashioned copper wires to “voice over internet protocol” (VOIP). Systems frequently come with battery back up, which may give you a few hours during a power failure. So this former benefit to having a landline may no longer be much of a benefit.
- Cell phone service outages – While not frequent, cell phone providers have outages that prevent users from making or receiving calls, including calls to 911. And of of course, landline outages are possible as well.