Sorry Telcos, Landlines Are Now A Luxury Expense

Slate says that growth of wireless phone customers in America combined with a bad economy has helped initiate an historic shift in how we think about landlines—specifically, they’re no longer considered an essential utility by a large portion of the population:

But in this first real slowdown of the wireless age, consumers seem to be saying that home-based telephones are expendable luxuries, like Starbucks lattes or Coach handbags. And it makes sense. Confronted with high inflation, soaring energy costs, and stagnant wages, millions of households are facing choices about which monthly bills to pay and which commitments to maintain. And if it comes down to one or the other, the mobile or the home-based land line, it’s clear which is a necessity and which is an option.

It’s not just tight budgets, though. Slate speculates that foreclosures are also having an effect, because as people move into rentals or in with relatives, they shut off existing landlines and don’t bother reconnecting.

I haven’t had a traditional landline since 2002. At first I moved to Vonage, then a DIY SIP setup that I never could get working correctly. Finally I realized it was both cheaper and simpler to just forego a home line entirely.

“Phones Without Homes” [Slate] (Thanks to SpiderJerusalem!)
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. scooby76 says:

    I agree, my LAN lines only purpose was to allow telemarketers to call me on a daily basis. Haven’t had one in probably 6 years now. Maybe 7, its been so long I don’t remember having one. I have lived off my cell phone for years, plus work pays for it. I never see the bill.

  2. Jon Mason says:

    Been living without a land-line for nearly 3 years now – the ONLY time I have missed it is when having an alarm installed and having to pay extra for wireless monitoring because of no phone line – but thats only $5 a month… still much cheaper than the land-line. The only time I would want a land-line was if I had a home office/business, even then would probably be more cost-effective to just get an unlimited minutes plan.

  3. tedyc03 says:

    I’ve never owned a landline phone. Never home, either. What do I need it for?

  4. fostina1 says:

    i wouldnt say luxury. is that 8 track player i got a luxury? i just consider it dead technology. far far from luxury.

  5. mycroft2000 says:

    @fostina1: Well, considering that the sound quality on my 40-year-old rotary phone is way better than that of any mobile I’ve ever used, it can indeed seem to verge on luxurious at times.

  6. illtron says:

    Of all my friends, only my fiancée has a landline, and that’s mainly because she owns her home and has an alarm system that requires it.

    What’s the point? Unless your cell phone doesn’t work at your house, I can’t see any reason to have a landline.

  7. AD8BC says:

    I still have one (Vonage).

    I like having a number that I can give to non-important people that I want to hear from but don’t want bugging me wherever I am at any time of day.

    Sure, I could look at the screen and see who is calling me and decide not to take the call… but I am riddled with A.D.D. and that little distraction can cost me 15 minutes of re-focusing my concentration.

    And, I know that companies sell telephone numbers to telemarketers. I’d rather see telemarketers get four rings at my unoccupied home than have a “number unavailable” call show up on my cellphone while I am trying to work.

    All the non-important calls will result in a nice little group of messages at the end of my work day.

    Another advantage is that people have the option of calling “me or my wife” or whoever is home in the evening rather than “only me” or “only my wife”. And I know that whenever I try to call someone (a business colleague or friend) I try them at home or the office first before wasting their cell minutes.

  8. stanner says:

    E-911 service can be a problem without a landline.

    Plus there really are a few dead zones for mobile service.

  9. xmarkd400x says:

    What does a land line do that a cell phone doesnt? Nothing.

    And my cell costs me less than the land line would!

  10. Angryrider says:

    Aw well… I still have my landline. Don’t know why, maybe it’s because I only pay $25 a month in telephone bills rather than the $50 charges of a cell phone.

  11. Nighthawke says:

    Your satellite TV requires a landline to operate properly, especially when you order PPV channels.
    Cordless phones are considered a luxury item. When the power goes out, so does your service. I keep a Old School trimline phone handy in those events.

    The other thing is the landline service is a state- and federally guaranteed service, cell service is NOT. If a storm wipes out both services at once, which will take priority? The landlines of course. If both services break, which take precidence? The landlines again. Telecoms don’t want to get nailed for neglecting their copper lines for they can and will get nailed for it.

    Landlines are a subsidized line item that the FCC and state pay for, so there are laws in place ordering the telecoms to maintain them.

  12. miramesa says:

    I am considering going the other way — switching to a pay-as-you-go cellphone and mainly using a landline.

    Between work and home, I would only be phone-free a couple of hours each day, usually when driving to work or meeting friends after work. I don’t answer my phone during that time anyway.

  13. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Don’t you need a landline for DSL? I’m considering it just to spite Comcast’s Internet, as it’s literally the ONLY alternative in my apartment.

  14. bohemian says:

    We never use all of our cell minutes anyway. The landline served two purposes, so our kids could talk to their friends and so random telemarketers could bother us constantly on our unlisted number. Our telco sold the unlisted number and our names before we even had it hooked up. The first call was the local newspaper trying to sell us a subscription. I could find no benefit in wasting $30 a month to be annoyed.

    If we need to give numbers to people we want to limit their access we use a Grand Central number. That way if they abuse it or sell it we can re-route the number.

  15. chiieddy says:

    I need a landline for my alarm system to work properly. I’m willing to pay for it considering it wasn’t all that long ago a meth addict threw a brick through my condo’s front window and crawled in after (5:30 am). We were home and the panic button was MUCH appreciated.

  16. TheShepherd says:

    I haven’t had a true land line in about 6 years. I had one my freshman year of college because it was included as part of the room & board, but I never bothered to plug it in when I was a sophomore and moved off campus my junior and senior years (using only a cell phone).

    For the last 2 years, in addition to my cell, i’ve had vonage. 2 reasons, i live in a building where someone can “call up” from the front door and i can hit 9 to let them in. Second is for people I don’t want to talk to like bill collectors and telemarketers, I have voicemail turned off on the vonage line as an added step for them to talk to me.

    I could have the door go to any number I choose, but when I had a roommate (i live alone currently) I didn’t want people who were coming to see him ringing my cell phone to be let in. As far as having all other calls go to my cell, yes, as another poster pointed out, I have caller ID, but I don’t want those calls even coming to that phone in the first place. The only people who have that number are the people I want to have it.

  17. bonzombiekitty says:

    @stanner: No it’s not. You can call 911 on any phone as long as it’s physically connected to the network, even if you don’t have service.

    Plus if you have a cell phone, it SHOULD be able to locate you when you call 911. Though some companies *cough cough* Verizon *cough* don’t do that very well.

  18. bonzombiekitty says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: No, you don’t need landline service for DSL. As long as the line is physically connected, you should be able to get DSL. Though they’ll charge you extra for it.

  19. forgottenpassword says:

    I am a single guy. I need a cellphone (mostly for work in case of an emergency) , I dont need a landline though. Yep, its a luxury.

    I rarely use a phone at all. I ahve a four year old cellphone that costs me about 3 bucks a month (t-mobile to go prepaid). Every three months I buy 10 bucks worth of minutes.

  20. LouiseDeion says:

    Bonzombiekitty: please explain how to get unbundled DSL in Washington State,
    because I’m in the same situation as Awesome-o. Where I live, the two
    high-speed choices are Comcast and Verizon DSL, and Verizon has repeatedly
    told me they don’t unbundle in Washington State.

  21. IphtashuFitz says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Unfortunately most telcos disconnect land-lines that aren’t in use. No service, no dialtone. No dialtone, no calling 911.

    I also much prefer the peace of mind coming from calling 911 from a land line and having my home address appear on the operators screen over calling 911 on my cell phone and them getting a ballpark location fix. They’d still need to know which unit in my condo complex I’m calling from, assuming that the GPS/whatever does pinpoint my location as being on the condo property.

  22. JaguarChick says:


    I wish I could find a landline for 25 dollars. We finally got rid of ours in March when Verizon came out with unlimited minutes for 99 dollars. We realized that we were paying almost a hundred dollars a month for a landline phone no one was ever home to answer and to get multiple voice mail hang ups (telemarketers) Even being on the do not call list and having an unlisted number did not keep us from telemarketing calls.

  23. Fuzz says:

    Jeez, I must be a dinosaur. I need my landline because I don’t have a cellphone. My wife has one that we use when we are out, but otherwise I am at work(where I have a phone) or at home. If I’m out, well, I probably don’t want to be bothered anyway. People can leave a message at home if it is important and I’ll call them back. I don’t understand this NEED by everyone to be connected and available all the time. It’s mind boggling to me.

  24. johnva says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Yep, this is correct. Many phone companies now use a “soft disconnect” when people cancel service rather than physically cutting the wires (probably because it saves them a truck roll). If your wires are still connected to the network, you can still get 911 service even without having a landline phone number.

    I have to agree that almost all the residential landlines my friends and family still have get inundated with telemarketing with comparison to cell phones. Maybe if the phone companies don’t want the usage numbers for landlines to slip so fast they should do something serious (ie, pressure Congress) to stop telemarketing instead of helping the marketers out. As for me, I’m landline free since 2004. And I’m happy to have saved that money.

    @Nighthawke: Not true. We had an extended power outage a while back and my cell phone service still worked for over a day. It did, admittedly, go down eventually once the towers near us ran out of diesel fuel for their backup generators. But it’s simply false that your service will go down instantly when the power goes out. And yes, I know that landlines are a higher priority for the government. Personally, that just tells me that the government needs to rearrange their priorities to match changes in technology. It would seem to be much easier to me to get cell service up and running again after a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake than a bunch of landlines. With landlines, they have to repair all the individual lines that are damaged. With cells, they could just roll in temporary tower trucks if necessary.

  25. Elvisisdead says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Right. There was a case recently where one of the telcos (ATT, I think) was forced to offer DSL only plans without the commitment of a land line.

    @Nighthawke: If anyone is in a storm that “takes out” both landline AND cell service, I would hope that they’re not at home trying to order pizza. If both go down, you’ve got greater concerns than trying to call someone. You’d probably have been evacuated to somewhere that had service, anyway.

  26. johnva says:

    @IphtashuFitz: It’s easy to test this out. If you can call the phone company’s customer service center by plugging a phone in the wall, you can call 911.

  27. krispykrink says:

    @IphtashuFitz: When you have your service shut-off, you can demand that they keep the connection for 911 service. It’s the law. Should you ever have to make that 911 call, it’ll register the address on the system.

    I had my landline shut-off 5 years ago. And I’ll never have one again.

  28. johnva says:

    @Fuzz: You don’t have to pay attention to your cellphone just because you’re carrying it, you know. If you turn it off or turn it on silent when you don’t want to be bothered, it will take messages too. It’s just a convenience, and sometimes it’s really useful when you’re away from home on a trip.

  29. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @miramesa: That’s what I was thinking of doing, too. I got a land line because I got DSL when I moved into my apartment. My cell phone doesn’t get good reception in there so I can’t switch to just a cell phone.I barely talk on the phone and the people I do talk to are all local numbers so a cell wouldn’t really save me anything. I just like having a cell phone for emergencies.

  30. loganmo says:

    I haven’t had a land-line in half a decade…I do live in DC and Im paranoid that if there is another big-emergency that I wont have a way to contact anyone..oh well.

  31. balthisar says:

    I never lost cell service once during the big blackout in August 03. We’ve been land-line-free since about December of 02. As is oft stated above, it only served as a conduit for telemarketers. Our two cellphones collectively cost only $50 per month. I was paying close to that for just a single land-line.

  32. tinmanx says:

    Landlines are a ripoff, the cost of the calls we made were around $.15 while the all the surcharges and taxes were 25+. So just simply having the landline will cost us $25+ a month.

  33. NTC-Brendan says:

    Both my wife and I work from home for part of our work time. We are currently using a SIP solution with E-911 and leveraging our cell phones. We kicked out the Telco last year and are no longer paying over $100 a month, dealing with outages, and dismissive customer (dis)service.

    Our SIP solution has good voice quality and an excellent uptime record. We have cell phones as a backup. I got us both Grand Central accounts to “screen” or SIP numbers from clients so that they do not get direct dialed and can get a hold of us regardless of which of our phones we answer.

    I do not foresee a scenario where we go back to $100 a month or more of outflow nor do I see SIP doing anything but improving as we move forward.

  34. mike says:

    I still have a land-line only because it’s part of my FiOS package. It allows me to justify writing it off as a business expense since I only use it for work.

    Landlines are so expensive compared to cell phones its no wonder. The next thing to go will be payphones…which, I predict, will be bad. Payphones are useful to call 911 or to prankcall people.

  35. johnva says:

    @loganmo: If there is another big emergency you may well have trouble contacting anyone with a landline, too. The long distance lines out of a city can only accommodate so many calls at once, and that number is a small fraction of all the people with phones in a big city. If everyone tries to call at once, you’re going to have trouble getting a line out. I’ve seen this happen with hurricane evacuations, and it happened all over on 9/11 as people called their relatives. So for a really big disaster, you may well be just as screwed with landlines as cell phones.

  36. tomcatv1 says:

    Gee the first thing off the grid in NY after 911 were cell phones. I didn’t have that trouble with my land line.

  37. @xmarkd400x: “What does a land line do that a cell phone doesnt?”

    Tell 911 where I live. We don’t have E-911 yet.

    I’ve got a land-line because I have DSL. It costs me $9.50 for the privilege of having the line connected to my house because (as I’ve mentioned before) I live in what AT&T considers a “rural” area despite being in the center of a fucking city complete with urban property taxes and shitty schools. The phone service itself only costs me 50 cents for 30 monthly local calls, so I initially hooked it up for TiVo. I don’t mind 50 cents so people I don’t like have somewhere to call and leave messages on my machine.

    I DO mind the 9-friggin-50, but I can’t do anything about THAT except switch to Comcast, to which I say HELL NO. I pay $29/mo for phone and DSL even with the ridiculous line fee. Cable’s cheapest internet-containing package locally is $45. It’s absurd.

  38. GrandizerGo says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Not actually, they have a service called dry-loop, this is DSL without a phone line.
    And it is NOT much more expensive, usually it is the same price. Remember that you get discounts though when you have phone service. So that makes the DSL + Phone portion look cheaper.

  39. Youthier says:

    I don’t have a landline and no desire for one. I do expect I will get one when I have kids.

  40. Sudonum says:

    We still have a landline because we do business out of the house and also have a fax machine set up. We get unlimited long distance (I have siblings that live all over the place) so for us it is worth the $45 a month.

  41. newfenoix says:

    @TheShepherd: Agreed. I haven’t had a land line since 2002. And even then, I had an unlisted number. My number only goes to those people that need it. And they WILL NOT give it out. My ex-wife’s attorney found this out to his immense displeasure when our son had an Order Of Protection (restraining order in Arkansas) placed against his mother. He had his law license suspended for a short time.

    Anyway, traditional phone companies are going the way of the 8-track. Especially since the introduction of Vonage, etc.

  42. synergy says:

    Although I understand the reasoning, usually in the cases of emergency, one of the first things to get overwhelmed or knocked out completely are cell phone lines. I keep my landline for just in case. It doesn’t cost that much.

  43. Fly Girl says:

    What kind of landlines are people using that are so expensive?!… A hundred bucks a month?!

    We have a landline for a couple of reasons– for starters, we need to have it for our building’s buzzer/intercom system, since our cell phones are both considered long distance. Plus, we wouldn’t want the buzzer to ring to one of our cells and not the other– having it ring the house makes a lot more sense.

    We also have it for the peace of mind that it provides. Should the power go out, we’ve got a phone. What if the power goes out for a long period of time? Can’t charge up the old cell phone without power. And if the cell phone is almost dead when the power goes out? Screwed. And, like other people have noted, landlines are far more stable and reliable in the case of an emergency.

    We don’t give out the number to anyone and we RARELY get telemarketing calls. We’ve got our number blocked and unpublished and on the no-call list– that does a pretty good job of making sure we don’t get unwanted calls. We also don’t give out the number to family or friends, just to make sure the number doesn’t get out there. It’s a strictly buzzer and emergency only line.

    If I’m home during the day, I’ll occasionally make local calls from the house phone rather than my cell phone because it’s free and won’t use up my cell minutes. Other than that, we use our cell phones for everything.

    How much does this “luxury” cost us a month? $12.00. It’s basic, yes– no caller ID, no call waiting, no voicemail. It’s just a local phone. It can call long distance, for an additional $.10 per minute. But that’s it.

    To us, the peace of mind and convenience of having the landline is totally worth the $12.00 a month…

  44. newfenoix says:

    @linus: That is already happening. Southwestern Bell got rid of all of their payphones in Arkansas in 2007.

  45. synergy says:

    @Fuzz: Agreed. I pissed off my last boss by giving him my cell number (for emergencies) and then turning it off during my work hours and not answering him after hours. When he barged in asking where was a good number to reach me I pointed at the wall phone and gave him that one. After that, he had no reason to be talking to me unless my laboratory was on fire. Afterall, he did not pay for my personal phone, so it’s not a work phone for him to be wasting my minutes, which are few.

    Where the heck are people getting service for a landline that it costs more than a cellphone??? Wow. Mine is bundled so I forget how much it is, but it’s either $15 or $20/mo. I have the cheapest plan on my phone and I still pay twice that for the cell.

  46. introductoryperiod says:

    Thanks Consumerist! you reminded me to cancel our landline service. The $25 per month phone service we have turns out to be $46 per month after taxes and surcharges.

    I pay $41 per month for mobile phone service with text messages and internet access.

  47. Geekybiker says:

    I haven’t had a landline for years. I used to live in a building that had a door buzzer that would dial your landline only, and that was the only thing I used it for. $30 a month doorbell. So I ditched it when I moved.

    Someone commented that satellite TV etc requires a land line for PPV. That’s not true anymore. My receiver has a LAN port on it so I can simply hook it up to the internet and it calls home that way.

  48. knyghtryda says:

    I think anyone under the age of 30 isn’t gonna have a landline at this point. I know even when I buy a house I probably won’t get a traditional landline, but maybe a SIP service routed through an asterisk box, or just forgo that entirely and get a docking station for a cellphone and just use that as a landline. If I’m gonna be paying nearly $50 for my cell (or $100 for 3 cells) I don’t think I want to pay another $15-20 for another line that I’ll rarely use.

  49. I contributed!

    Seriously, though, if DSL had been available unbundled in 2000, I never would have had a landline after my freshman year. The fact I had to come home and deal with 16.6 dial-up was hurtful to my soul. My husband wants us to have a landline for emergencies, but our town doesn’t have a ton of crime, and I have the Sherriff’s station on speed dial, just in case (we live behind a pub).

  50. laserjobs says:

    Cable HSI and Magicjack


  51. temporaryerror says:

    Since I got a Tmobile phone with UMA (a wifi radio in the phone that connects to wireless routers and lets me call over the net) I’ve found that if you have naked/dry loop DSL or cable internet with a wireless router, poor cell service at your house is no longer an issue. The phone figures out what has the strongest signal (wifi or cell tower) and connects to that. I’ve really found it to be useful. No more dropped calls in my basement, and when I’m at my friends house in his basement, I have full service while he has to put his phone in the window well and use bluetooth. Tmo only has a couple of phones that do this though…

  52. lalaland13 says:

    I disconnected my landline in February after buying a new cell phone (my old one was so old it was practically a rotary cell phone). The AT&T guy kept telling me I needed it for satellite or DVR, and I don’t have either. I was paying close to $50 a month for a basic landline, and he offered me a $10 special but I just didn’t feel like it after he had been such an aggressive ass and told me if I had kids “They’re trained to dial 911 on landlines.” Yeah, right.

    At some point I might be able to afford Tivo or DVR, so if I really do need a landline for those, I’m screwed. Anyone know a way around that? Or was the dude just full of crap?

  53. temporaryerror says:

    @temporaryerror: also, my phone is an excellent way to very quickly find unsecured/free hotspots trying to find a connection for my laptop.

  54. temporaryerror says:

    @lalaland13: most newer/ish TiVo’s have a ethernet port. You can connect it through that rather than the phone line, plus you get some sort of additional TiVo content. You can also buy a wireless adapter for TiVos

  55. meg9 says:

    I moved in 2004 to DC, and never hooked up a landline. I don’t miss it, even though I have crappy reception at my apartment :)

  56. bonzombiekitty says:

    @IphtashuFitz: To my knowledge, they are not supposed to, FCC regulations are supposed to be such that any phone can dial 911. I think that even if you don’t have a dial tone, it can still tell if you’re trying to dial 911.

    (Disclaimer, I work for a company that does locations for two of the major cell phone providers in the US)

    As for 911 with cell phones, it shouldn’t be giving a “ball park” location. It should be pretty accurate. Granted, it’s not going to tell you what room of the building you are in, but a properly set up system can get you really darn close. There’s two primary means of locating a person – network and handset based. Network based solutions have the advantage of working indoors and other conditions in which you don’t have a line of site to a satellite, but the drawback is that you need a good amount of towers around, which usually isn’t available in rural areas. Handset based solutions can be extremely accurate — provided you’re not inside or don’t have a good line of site to a satellite (i.e. dense urban areas). New FCC regulations are more strict which will probably mean hybrid solutions to get the best of both worlds.

  57. dopplerd says:

    I live in a 12 unit condo building in Chicago. Most of the owners are under 35. I was looking at the AT&T connection box and there is only one unit that has a traditional wired phone line. That is 1 out of 12.

    FYI, I have “naked” DSL (no phone line) and a cell phone and have no need for anything else. FYI 2, I love Skype.

  58. lalaland13 says:

    @temporaryerror: Sweet, thanks for the info. I actually don’t hate my cable company too much (it’s not Comcast, thank God) so a DVR/Tivo might be an option sometime in the future.

    And I’ll add my voice to the chorus that said all my landline was good for was getting harassed by telemarketers. Although I did have one guy who kept calling me because he thought I had a tractor repair shop.

  59. Elvisisdead says:

    @tomcatv1: And they were supposed to be. In national emergencies, the government seizes control of the local telephone networks. Cellular and wireline. Emergency telecom shares the same infrastructure with everyone else. They kick you off so that they can get about the business of fixing what has gone wrong. When they finish up, they return the service to you.

  60. Dervish says:

    No landline for us – only cell phones. Although I really overspend on cable, so the net dollar gain is about zero.

    In the 3+ years we’ve had this setup, the only inconvenience (never had cause to call 911) has been that our building access was only tied to standard landlines, which meant that a guest/delivery person had to call one of our phones so we could go to the entrance and let them in. Not a big deal. When we moved in they told us that they were working on connecting the system to cell phones, and we sort of nodded and smiled – the tenants are mostly older folks, so we thought it would never happen. Imagine our suprise when it finally did! Now we don’t have to get off our lazy butts to actually walk anywhere!

  61. mac-phisto says:

    count me as “cell only”. i’m home more now than i used to be, but my home phone goes with me, plus i have the added bonus of not receiving telemarketing calls (one or two/year & the second i say it’s a cell, they say sorry & hang up).

    i’ve used 911 on both verizon & at&t in spotty coverage areas & it works ok. if it were a life/death emergency, i’d be dead (transferring to the proper dispatch takes ~5 minutes), but luckily it was just minor issues.

  62. johnva says:

    @lalaland13: Yep, I’ve experienced the exact same tactics by people selling landlines. The phone companies must be getting desperate if they think that lies and fearmongering are the best way to sell their product. I believe it was an Embarq sales guy that gave me the exact same line you describe. I told him I didn’t appreciate his lying and hung up.

  63. Back at the beginning of the year there was a jail break from the county jail. About a half-dozen prisoners got out.

    The county, using reverse 911, notified all residents living within 1 mile of the jail of the jail break. ONLY land-lines are called.

    There is an industrial plant in the next county over, makes some sort of plastics from oil. There was a chlorine leak. The county, using reverse 911, notified all residents living within 1 miles of the plant about the chlorine leak. ONLY land-lines are called.

    Would you like for me to continue?

    Yep, you darn right I have a land line.

  64. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @bonzombiekitty: @GrandizerGo: Good to know, thanks! Not surprisingly, at first glance there’s not a whole lot of information on AT&T’s site for unbundled DSL.

  65. Ragman says:

    Two of our friends who lived across the street from the WTC had Voicestream/Tmobile during 9/11. They were able to make and receive calls from family in Dallas during that day. During hurricane warnings, the govt does block landline access before the storm arrives. I’ve run into that with hurricanes Rita and Andrew.

    If I was living in apartments, I wouldn’t get a landline either. Easier to just keep a cell and use cable internet. Especially if you move around to get the move-in specials.

  66. @GrandizerGo: I think I pay 5 bucks a month more for my dry loop DSL than I would if I had a landline too. Certainly not worth it to have the landline.

    On another mildly amusing note, my entire connection is coax right up to the last 6 inches between the demark and the DSL modem.

  67. @Ragman:

    Since when does the gov block land lines during storms?

    Katrina victim here. My sis evacuated to Houston and I was on the phone with her up to about an hour before the eye of Katrina hit. Land-line to land-line. Cell phones were dead of course because they don’t work well when microwave towers are destroyed.

  68. jme349 says:

    I still have a landline.. put it in vacation mode about 4 years ago…Cost me $.07 a month, for a buck a year im guaranteed 911 if there’s ever a need. Never used it, so why pay.. I always have my cell phone, and that’s how people called me before anyways.

  69. Jevia says:

    We use Vonage for our “land line” because we call Europe a lot and we’ve got unlimited minutes for $300/year. If we didn’t need it for that, we’d probably just stick with our cell phones. We could use the cell for calls to Europe, but it costs more.

  70. DCvision says:

    We use Vonage as well, for a little bit more than $5 a month in savings, plus being able to call 1 county over for free (hellsouth used to charge 25-40cents a call). My wife works over-nights and sleeps during the day. I like the security of knowing that if she hears something go bump in the day, she can just pick up the phone and call for help… how many of you keep your cellphone with your wallet and keys in a tray by the front door???

  71. RandomMutterings says:

    @ Nighthawke:

    “Landlines are a subsidized line item that the FCC and state pay for, so there are laws in place ordering the telecoms to maintain them.”

    Um, no they are not subsidized. In fact, landlines are GOLD to the phone company and to your State and local governments. They cost almost nothing to provide (as a technical matter), are regulated and highly taxed. They are, however, offered on a common carrier basis so that sometimes the cost of providing service to a single home/business is done below “marginal” cost. But overall, these are not subsidized services. Rather the opposite (VONAGE/VOIP are ‘subsidized’ in the sense that they are free riding on top of another network (the Internet)).

  72. khiltd says:

    How many of those surveyed were teenagers and college kids whose parents pay their bills and have no more pressing need of a phone than to order pizzas and find out which one of their neckbearded friends is bringing the skull bong that night?

    Even the most “luxurious” land line package out there is still less than half as much as a cell phone plan and your 911 calls don’t get routed to some central dispatch office for the entire state that takes 15 minutes just to connect you to a local operator.

  73. battra92 says:

    My house is a dead zone for wireless so we have landlines.

    I also have a black rotary phone on my desk! It’s awesome and still works great.

  74. angelman says:

    I was trying to get rid of the landline but since I dont have cable It wasnt worth it to get dry loop dsl. The trick at least with at&t is to ask for their unmetreed plan which is $5/month, $12 with all the stupid taxes. It worked out just a couple of bucks more than having dry loop but at least I still have a real phone number for 911 or if there is a power outage and cell phones don’t work (which has happened in an emergency).
    I then have packet8 VOIP and a cell phone on prepay. VOIP is abotu $24 with free calls anywhere in US and most of Europe with call waiting, voicemail and all those other features people pay extra for with normal telcos. I dont have any normal phone connected to the landline, just the modem/router so never have a problem with telemarketing calls.

  75. johnva says:

    @Corporate-Shill: I need a cell phone anyway, and I don’t want to pay for a landline additionally. I’m not going to pay for one just for exceptional situations. The solution to the problems you describe is for government to get off their butts and adapt with the times by making all these services work with cell phones too.

  76. LouiseDeion says:

    I’d still love someone to outline a dry-loop DSL strategy with Verizon in
    Washington State. Like I said, every time I’ve talked to them about it,
    they’ve told me it’s simply not available in this state. I know it’s
    available for more fortunate people with AT&T, but I don’t have that. And
    I’m sure as hell not giving Comcast any of my money.

    Needless-to-say, I only have a landline because I need broadband internet
    and it’s the only non-Comcast way to get it.

  77. bonzombiekitty says:

    @LouiseDeion: Dunno why they don’t offer it. Verizon in the Philadelphia area offers it.

  78. veronykah says:

    @Fly Girl: I also had the “$10” a month home phone service just so I could have DSL. The expense when you have a phone that cheap is all the taxes and fees! I was paying nearly $10/mo in taxes etc too, making my bill nearly $20 for measured rate service that I NEVER used.
    I have a landline now because it came with the cable/internet package from Time Warner. Both my roommate and I are amazed at how many times a day our phone rings, considering neither of us have our number memorized therefore have NEVER even so much as given it to anyone.
    Landlines are for telemarketers.

  79. enine says:


    “The other thing is the landline service is a state- and federally guaranteed service, cell service is NOT. If a storm wipes out both services at once, which will take priority? The landlines of course. If both services break, which take precidence? The landlines again. Telecoms don’t want to get nailed for neglecting their copper lines for they can and will get nailed for it.

    Landlines are a subsidized line item that the FCC and state pay for, so there are laws in place ordering the telecoms to maintain them. “

    Try living in Ameritech who later became SBC who later became AT&T this. Our land line was out more often than our cell phone, internet, power, and water combined. $40 a month for just basic phone service, no long distance. I pay $60 for two cell phones with unlimited long distance. So when we moved I qualified for the bundle cable package for an extra $20 I get home phone service and free long distance. Either way a cell phone or IPphone is cheaper than a land line and gives better service.

  80. enine says:


    “Even the most “luxurious” land line package out there is still less than half as much as a cell phone plan and your 911 calls don’t get routed to some central dispatch office for the entire state that takes 15 minutes just to connect you to a local operator. “

    Not here, plan old basic phone is $40 before taxes making it about $45 or so. I pay $60 for two cell phones so that makes $30/phone and the cell phones have free long distance, the land line I have to pay for long distance.

  81. SacraBos says:

    To those asking about land lines more costly than cell phones? My cell phone is more, but with all taxes, sur-charges, et. al. it gets closer. And if you need to drop your telecom costs, the land line can go.

    I have Vonage for my business (phone+fax =~ $60/mo) and Verizon calls every now and again to get me back. They can’t even offer 1 line for that price, so I should switch back why???

  82. P_Smith says:

    Let’s face it, between a cell phone and internet via wi-fi or TV cable, who needs a land line anymore? There might be a large number of people who will continue to use them, but it’s not 99% of the population anymore.

    The last time I had a land line was when I had to live in another city for a few months to do a job. I only got the land line so I could use dialup internet – a local cable company wanted a two year contract, the phone and dialup was month to month payment. I went for the phone solely because it was easier to get out of.

  83. plasticredtophat says:

    I only have a land line, and its a hell of alot cheaper than two cell phones a month, specially ones we dont use. I am thinking of getting prepaid, for emergencies.

  84. mstevens says:

    There are still large populated areas with poor or nonexistent cellphone service. For example, no cellphones work at my house, though they work about a block away. This means that for many of my patients, a cellphone is NOT a safe or useful substitute for a landline.

  85. SimonSwegles says:

    Seems silly to compare sub-$15/month landline services with basic cellphone services. For $15/month I can get a landline tied to a single location with no ability to call non-local numbers. For $35/month I can get a basic cellphone plan tied to the continental U.S. with CallerID, VM, free long distance, and more minutes than I can use in a month. To get the equivalent services on a landline, it would cost considerably more than $35/month.

    I have 4 cell-phones (one for each family member) on a shared plan, Skype VOIP (unlimited calls to all the U.S. and Canada, all the extra services like VM and CallerID), and GrandCentral for switchboarding, all for $79/month.

  86. monkeybot says:

    I had the opportunity to tour my city’s 911 dispatch center.

    Their suggestions:

    1. Program the local emergency number for a faster response into your cellphone.

    2. If you have VoIP, make sure you keep your physical address information up-to-date. With number portability, your number may be routed to a 911 center based on the area code of your number. This is bad if you have moved.

    3. Be prepared to verify your location. This is one of the first questions they will ask. Bottom line: They can’t send help if they don’t know where you are.

    I have my land line. The last time there was an minor earthquake, no one could get in touch with me on my cell (based on the time-stamped voicemails) and for a few hours all I could get was “your call cannot be completely at this time.” The land line still worked and I was able to receive calls and call out.

  87. Sarcastikate says:

    Wish I could give up the land line, but due to my extremely desolate & remote location (30 miles from Manhattan), I’m lucky to get any kind of cell phone signal. Plus who would my ex’s creditors call if I cut the home phone off? I get a clearer connection from my boss traveling in India than I do calling across town.

  88. oregongal says:

    Our landline would go in a heartbeat except for the costs related to overseas calls. If my wonderful M-i-L lived in US it wouldnt be necessary to keep it, but as she lives in the UK our landline is the cheapest way to go.

  89. Starfury says:

    I’ve got a landline, only costs $15/month. I keep it because I’ve got kids and if I ever have dial 911 they’ll know exactly where my house is. My son also plays a few online games and will tie the line up for hours with his friend; since it’s a local call there’s no extra charge for the calls.

    I do have a cell phone; it’s used mostly to call my wife.

  90. redkamel says:

    once cell phones came out I never understood the point of land line except 911. You never know who the call is for, the thing gets lost like a remote, and it either never used (hence a waste) or hogged by one family member (hence they need to get their own phone and pay for it). Also if you arent home (which is most of the day) its useless.

  91. montanaxvi says:

    I am going through this very debate right now.

    MCI just sent me my new bill, which they so kindly raised my monthly price on, so now after taxes my home land line is over $60/month. I do have caller id, and voice mail, long distance and call waiting. Time to start shopping around. I kinda need it for at least another 2 years a which point my contract with Brinks is up and I can cancel the monitoring service, but I also have DirecTV and need the phone line hooked up to it also :(

  92. Ragman says:

    @Corporate-Shill: If you called out from NO, it wouldn’t matter. Calling into the area is spotty, and around the time it hits, that’s when they’ll block the incoming calls, so emergency calls within the area can be made.

    In 9/11, Verizon service was hampered because Verizon had a switching office by the WTC, and had 10 cell towers that connected through their WTC office.

  93. ciaokss says:

    @oregongal: I recently kicked the land line habit and have no intention of going back. My cell works for all the domestic calls. I have quite a number of people I keep in contact with outside of the country – Skype or Skype Out work great for those. Even if you’re calling a cell phone or land line overseas, it costs next to nothing – computer-to-computer of course is free and has been reliable for me regardless of whether it’s Europe, India or Australia. Might be just the ticket for your M i L. You can get Skype In too if it doesn’t work for her to call you on a cell.

  94. Colage says:

    This makes no sense.

    Landlines are too expensive, so me, my wife, and my 3 kids all have cellphones for the low, low price of $400/mo!

    There’s a conversation on another post about Subway and cellphone usage there and how they’re nothing short of heroic for telling people to get off the phone. Are we really at such a point where we need to be on the phone all damn day? Maybe instead of complaining about $20-30/mo phone bills we should ask why the smallest cellphone plans are 450 minutes instead of 100 or something that would be more conducive to people who aren’t constantly yakking into the damn things.

  95. enine says:


    Yes, it makes sense. A basic land line here is $40 and you get poor service. I pay $60 for two cell phones and get free long distance so cell service is $10 cheaper per “line”, has better relaibility and more features.

  96. Hmmm…. I wonder…. has anyone read that recent news article that says don’t use cell phones they may give you cancer?

    Anyway, here’s what it comes down to.

    Cell phones give you portability and accesibility. People like that.

    The trade-offs however are numerous.

    You can’t lose your landline telephone.

    You are far less likely to break your landline telephone by sitting on it, dropping it in the sink, etc.

    You don’t need to replace the phone every 18 months, or the applicable accesories that you “need to have” such as charger, headsets etc etc

    Cell phones are far more likely to go down in an emergency as they systems can get overloaded. 9/11 anyone?

    You can have multiple people on a landline call since you probably have more then one phone. not so with a cell phone.

    You can’t send a fax from a cell phone.

    Most of the time you can’t run an alarm circuit thru a cell phone.

    You don’t have to worry about dead batteries.

    Reception issues? What reception issues?

    People act like “OMG! It’s SO much $$$!” What most people do not realize is that if you have cable & internet, you can can bundle a landline with free LD for about $20-30. Basic cable is typically $40/50. Dry loop DSL is about $40. You can get that + free LD for $110 including taxes/fees in NJ. So really, it’s not much more money then just having the cable and internet.

    Most local telcos do not have a contract for their phone service. You are free to cancel/switch providers at any time. With a cell phone, the ETF can be nasty.

    Now you can always get local service thru VOIP (Vonage) or cable. However many of these same issues still exist. what that tells me is that people are willing to accept the limitations and liabilities of cell phones because they value the portability more. Everyone has their reasons.

  97. elkapitann says:

    I really don’t like always being available. I’m only 32, but I act like a dinosaur in that regard. I also wear a watch, crazy I know. I have a pre-paid cellphone, 1000 min/1-yr T-Mobile plan for me and the wife = $200. Then I have Vonage. Total telephone expenses a year $568.04. Still feel its way too high, but haven’t found a way to make it any lower yet