Get all the information before you make a decision
Dear Consumer Advisor,
Landline phones are so old-fashioned! Why not get rid of mine and use my cell phone exclusively?
Dear Hopeful Hipster,
POTS, or plain old phone service, may not be glamorous but it is affordable. Dropping it will only save you money if you can keep your cell bills low. And you’ll pay a price in convenience, as well.
Cost comparisons depend on usage
First of all, cell phones are not always cheaper than landlines. If you sign up for an unlimited cell phone plan with data service, you could be paying about $100 per month or more. Basic landline telephone service with no bells and whistles might cost around $20 a month. The key is to buy what you need. If you make a lot of long distance calls the cell might be cheaper since most plans include long distance with your bucket of minutes. If you don’t talk long distance very much, the landline is probably the cheaper option. You can use the landline for local calls and get a prepaid cell phone for long distance calls and come out ahead.
Fast, direct emergency 911 access
With a landline telephone you also get more reliable 911 access. Currently calling 911 and E-911 service on a landline connects customers with local emergency service providers directly and immediately. Cable and cell phone providers are not required to route 911 calls to the nearest emergency service providers. In many areas of California, especially rural areas, most wireless calls are not answered locally but are routed to California Highway Patrol (CHP) centers.
You may also need a landline if you want DSL service. In some areas, DSL is still the best high speed Internet option. Have cable Internet? If you lose power, you lose your cable and your Internet and your cable phone service.
Beware of power outages
During a power outage, you don’t lose your landline. You don’t lose your cell phone, either, but what if the power outage lasts awhile? Cell towers will only run on a battery backup for so long before they also die. Remember, cell phones need to be charged, and cordless phones require electricity.
The safest solution? Hang on to your old fashioned, plain old phone, and your plain old phone service too. And keep cell phone bills low by being a smart and savvy cell phone consumer.