Q: My landline barely gets any use. Every family member has their own cellphone and it feels like I’m throwing out money each month when I pay the bill. Should I get rid of my landline?
A: Phone lines that need to be plugged into the wall are quite outdated. And, if you’re feeling like your landline has gotta go, you’re not alone. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than half of American homes were exclusively using wireless phone service during the first half of 2017. However, lots of people insist on holding onto their landlines for good reason – several of them, actually.
Before you make a decision to cut the wire, read up on the main reasons people cling to their landlines, and why some of them may not matter after all.
Communication during emergencies
This is easily the most pressing reason keeping people tied to their landlines. If a natural disaster or a power outage hits your area, your cellphones will eventually run out of juice. Your landline, on the other hand, will keep you connected to the outside world even when the lights go out.
Why this may not matter: Here’s where a huge misconception comes into play: Many newer landlines actually won’t work in a power outage.
Older landlines, which are connected via copper wires to switch boxes and transmit calls between phones plugged into the wall, will almost always work in a natural disaster. They connect through wires and don’t depend on electricity. So, if your landline is older, your reasoning is sound.
If your phone line is newer, though, it’s not so simple. Most telecommunication companies are no longer using copper wires because copper is not great at transmitting signals for cable TV and internet. Since most telecom companies now offer bundled services, most use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) line instead of copper wires. These lines transmit phone service over the same cables and wires used for the home’s internet connection. To work, a VoIP line needs to be plugged directly into the household’s internet gateway device. If your landline and internet are connected with a shared VoIP line, when the power goes out, so will your phone.
Ironically, the primary reason people hold onto their landlines may not even be relevant at all.
Let 911 find you
Here’s where a landline really works for you during times of crisis: It helps emergency responders find you quickly. When you call from a landline, the operators will instantly have your location on their screens. Calls from cellphones, though, are harder to trace. And, when every minute counts, you don’t want 911 wasting precious time trying to determine where you are.
They may be a relic of a disappearing era, but landlines rarely make your voice sound tinny, they won’t suddenly drop your calls in middle of an important conversation and they’re hardly ever guilty of filling your phone line with annoying static.
What about your cellphone? Thanks to its bandwidth allocation and its small receiver and microphone, you never know when your cellphone is going to get moody on you and decide to drop your call or make it unclear.
Why this may not matter: If you have excellent reception at home and your phone service is impeccable, you can have clear, perfect conversations, even with a cellphone.
In another twist of irony, clinging to your landline might actually be saving you money each month. Here’s why: As mentioned, lots of telecommunication companies offer special deals on service bundles like cable, internet and a landline. If you cut the landline, but still want to keep the other two services, you might not be eligible for that great deal any longer and you can end up paying more for fewer services.
Why this may not matter: If you don’t bundle your telecom services and you keep your phone line separate from your internet connection, this won’t apply.
Cheaper international options
You may have a terrific cellphone plan, but it your bill can look scary if you ever make the mistake of using it for an out-of-country phone call. Landlines, on the other hand, often offer fantastic international plans that can make overseas calls affordable.
Why this might not matter: If all of your family and friends live in the U.S. and you rarely make calls overseas, this factor might not make a difference to you.
Share a family phone
It can be expensive to get each family member their own cellphone. It’s also annoying to have to constantly nag them about not going over their minutes or data coverage.
Why this might not matter: If each child already has their own cellphone and you share a family plan with enough minutes and data to go around, this won’t concern you.
So, can you hang up on your landline or not? The jury is still out on this one. But, if you carefully consider your own needs and particular circumstances, you can make the decision that’s right for you.
Your Turn: What’s your take on the landline debate? Have you cut the cord yet? Share your opinion with us in the comments!