Why Yes, I Still Have a Landline

Photo by MoShotz, used under Creative Commons license.


Gizmodo is curious to know who still has a landline and why. Well, I do, and here’s why:

1. The landline comes bundled with my DSL line and it’s not really any cheaper to have just the DSL service and not the landline, plus my provider whines petulantly if you ask for just the raw DSL line, so the hell with it, I’ll keep the landline.

2. Continuity. It’s useful to have had the same phone number for the last 14 years.

3. When the power goes out the phone lines still work. Likewise when the cell phones occasionally and inexplicably bork for whatever period of time it is until they unbork themselves again.

4. It’s the phone number that’s generally available, saving my cell phone number for people I know personally.

5. Voice reception is much better, so when I actually want to talk to people, rather than text them, it’s the phone I use.

6. If I want my wife to join in on a phone call for some reason (or she me), I don’t have to do some sort of complicated routing thing involving Skype/Google Hangouts/Conference calling, I just say “pick up the other receiver” and she does.

7. It’s actually useful to have a phone that serves the house generally, and not a specific member of it; for example, business that needs to be done in/around the house itself.

8. Inertia. There are ways to get around all the stuff mentioned above but it requires time/effort/interest on my part, or I could just keep the damn landline and have to do nothing. So.

9. Immunity to social judgment about keeping a landline. No, I don’t care if you think it’s odd/weird/quaint/adorable I still have one. It’s useful to me and I’m not going to give it up just because most people have ditched theirs at this point. You’re not the boss of me, jerks!

10. Nostalgia for dialing “1” before the area code (this last one is a lie, but I had to get to 10 reasons for completist purposes).

Mind you, I don’t judge (or, really, care) if you do or do not have a landline yourself. It’s not something I think is actually that important. But they are in point of fact getting rarer and rarer. Someone somewhere will have the very last landline one day. I wonder if it will be me.

135 Comments on “Why Yes, I Still Have a Landline”

  1. Don’t I have to dial 1 before the area code on my cell phone? If I don’t, I’ve been missing out on that.

  2. If you ever, Heaven forbid, need to call ‘911’, the call center will know where you live, where if you call from a cellular phone, you will be at the mercy of towers to verify your location. Nationwide, it’s reported to have less than a 40% accuracy rate for knowing your location. So, there’s that.

  3. I have one as well – my two youngest kids do not yet have cell phones, so it still makes sense to keep it. Plus it’s like 5 bucks a month in the bundled internet/cable package, so it’s worth it for consistency. MANY of my friends have ditched theirs, though, so I increasingly feel like an old coot (and hey, it’s actually my 45th birthday today, so I AM an old coot! :-))

  4. The newer smartphones on AT&T and Verizon all have hd voice which sounds better than landlines

  5. We keep ours because its the one phone system you can always find / hear throughout the house. If I leave my cell upstairs and I am down in the basement, the wife / kids can still reach me. Plus, our home phone is a magicjack voip adapter that works great and costs something like $100 for 5 years of phone service. Considering we mainly use our cell phones you cannot beat that price. We had a cell signal repeater installed in our house so we get great cell reception everywhere including the basement.

  6. That pretty much sums up my reasons as well. I’d add one, though: It’s the number I give people (or, more likely, organizations) I don’t want to talk to. I only answer this phone if I recognize the caller ID. I haven’t talked to a telemarketer in over ten years.

  7. 1) I have 3 kids who only need to remember one phone #. I think all of these reasons are good. I much prefer the landline when speaking to people too – and yes, 911. :)

  8. We still use a fax machine for our business, which plugs into the land line. We also get a ton of annoyance calls (‘Microsoft Center’, polls, political claptrap) which are easier to screen from the land line than a cell phone.

  9. I have one, too. Sadly, we live in a rural location where the strong rumor going around is that the phone company is just going to let the phone lines rot and not do any replacement/repair. So, we’ll have to switch to all cell at some point.

  10. The phone that comes with internet/cable isn’t, strictly speaking, a landline. In fact, the landline’s biggest advantage (911 accuracy) is completely gone from it.

    That’s not to say it’s a bad service, got it myself and I like it. But definitely don’t assume the 911 safety is there – in fact, I think it’s worse on accuracy than a landline.

  11. My roommate works at home for IBM, working with Chrysler. They have teams all over the world, and they all VPN into the servers & such. Landlines are more stable and secure, and they’re required for such work. We already had a landline, since I used to work tech support for DirecTV from home, and since I was dealing with personal financial info, they didn’t want to risk someone hacking info out of the air if I were wireless (they required a wired phone as well). These requirements may change someday, but I can tell you that landlines aren’t going away any time soon.

  12. I doubt there will ever be a big deal about the last landline. They will just silently vanish and one day no one will know where they went. Probably the phone jacks in the walls will get turned into little tiny VOIP converters.

  13. My minimalist landline costs me $40 a month, and I have made zero 911 calls and received 1 reverse 911 call that wasn’t even for me in the last 20 years. Please, you know, if you make a 911 call they still ask you where you are….

  14. Argh. Plus, you know, they still ask for your location when you make a 911 call…and I would love to edit my comments because you know, sometimes I am suffering from IT brain fog

  15. Not only do we still have a landline (and do not plan on ditching it), we have at least one phone that still has a cord and doesn’t require external power and/or charging.

  16. I still have a landline and I still use it. I do use the cell for long distance, though, since it’s cheaper and less hassle.

  17. My parents bought the house I grew up in 40 years ago, and it has had the same phone number ever since. It was the ONLY number I had, or had ever had, until I left home for college.
    I can’t say I ever gave it much thought though until last year when Dad moved out and started renting it. So while the number itself is still there, AFAIK, it no longer has any connection to me any more.
    On a side note, though related in a way, is how well we knew each others phone numbers back then. I had almost all of my friend’s numbers memorized because I called them all the time. Now all my numbers are remembered by my phone and outside of immediate family I don’t have anyone’s number memorized.

  18. For those too young to know: hanging up on someone by slamming the hard plastic receiver down onto the dial/base is more satisfying than you can possibly imagine…

  19. got rid of our landline a couple years ago. Then recently became proud parents and are wondering if we should go back.

    911 asks for your location – but it’s better if they just know it, when a kid is calling.

  20. zlynx writes;

    Probably the phone jacks in the walls will get turned into little tiny VOIP converters.

    That’s how our VOIP service works. The VOIP gateway provides POTS service to the wall jacks, and the POTS phones plugged into the jacks don’t know any different.

  21. We have a landline because the cable/internet provider actually charges $10/month less if you buy the package bundled with the landline. They also charge $10/month for the number to be unlisted so the only calls I ever get are telemarketers. I leave the ringer off and clear the messages once in a while. I currently have no idea what the number is and last time I checked the physical phone doesn’t even work.

    I see the utility if my kids were still little but being that they are both young adults with their own cell phones this all works out fine for us.

    In regards to #2, I’m pretty sure my cell phone has been the same number since at least 2000. On the contrary, I’ve had at least 5 different landline numbers since then.

    I agree, “landlines” will fade away. I also agree that I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore. I know my wife’s cell number and my parent’s landline number since it’s been the same since the late 60’s, but I don’t even know my kids numbers without looking them up in contacts.

  22. I still have a landline as well. Its a lifesaver as far as keeping my current employment, as cell service is not always reliable, especially here in CA when a disaster occurs (earthquake, floods, fires) which is quite often, and the limited narrowband cell frequencies are clogged. Basically, I’m on call work work, and if I miss a call, my employer doesn’t care if cell service is down, i’m still getting my rump reamed and lose a lot of money.

  23. about point #1, you might think you are only cutting a few bucks off your bill but remember you pay taxes on the total amount and line fees and other fees that add up. so cutting the land line *might* save more than just a few bucks.

    Although it really sounds like reasons 2-10, especially #8 triumph that.

  24. John, this may be my suburban-bias showing but I’ll bet in your area (somewhat rural OH) there are more people with landlines than smartphones (note: smartphones, not regular cell phones).

  25. In reference to your #10, one of the strangest things about travelling abroad was having the numbers for long distance within the country NOT start with 1 before the equivalent of an area code….

  26. Hey, I still have a Westinghouse rotary phone with a physical bell that a little hammer hits. It’s the loudest phone I own, so when I’m doing yard work in the summer I’ll plug it in and set it in the window if I’m expecting a landline call.

    It’s bright 1970s orange.

  27. We have a landline, for generally similar reasons.

    One additional one: When one of us misplaces our cell phone around the house, we walk over to the landline and call it.

  28. You might eventually wind up with the very last landline anywhere, Mr. Scalzi, but only if you outlive me. I do not own a cellular phone of any flavor, and I don’t ever plan to change that happy state of affairs. I purely despise the bloody things.

    Aside from my general detestation of cellular phones, my reasons for keeping a landline are similar to yours, with one added bonus. When the political robo-calls start up again, as they will in the near future, I can just unplug the damned phone from the wall and enjoy the resulting peace and quiet.

    Cranky curmudgeon is cranky. And you kids there, you get offa my lawn!

  29. My mother-in-law has a heart device that has to dial back daily. We converted our landline to a VoIP line, but it interfered with the device and the VoIP was unreliable. We switched back.

  30. I don’t have cable or internet service at home. (a cheap hotspot meets my internet needs), so gave up the landline several years ago.

  31. I still use a land line too. I teach at an online school, and I use my land line for that. That way I keep my mobile for personal use. Gives me a nice separation from “teacher” and “person”. Plus it came with the really fabulous internet service our local community offers.

  32. John, FYI, knowing that you had a landline meant that it wasn’t that hard for me to do a search on the Internet and find your landline phone number. I’m not sure if that’s something that concerns you, but I thought you would want to know. (Feel free to delete this comment. As it is, I already have your number from the SFWA directory, but it’s not like I have a reason to call you…)

  33. After the last sizable earthquake in the Seattle area it was impossible to make a cell call either due to tower damage or overloading the system. Landline worked fine.

  34. As Diana Staresinic-Deane mentioned, if it goes through the cable/internet modem from your cable/internet provider, it is not true landline. When service to your C/I provider goes *poof*, so does the phone service. Nor will the phone truly draw power from the phone network, as old true landlines used to do. But it’s all about the same, especially for rural areas, as the old overhead landlines used to be: storms and tree fallings may or may not take out the Cable/Internet connectivity, but that’s no different than it was back in the 60’s-70’s-80’s so far as phone service goes.

    But back then TV was a whole different ballgame, and the idea of paying for programming was bizarre to say the least. Phone service my dad and grand-dad could understand paying for, but *television* ? I can’t imagine the words that would have come out of their mouths if anyone had suggested to them that they pay for this thing called “internet”.

  35. Agreed about landlines, and I feel the same about the post office. Internet’s good for a lot of things, but I like having papermail available as an option via the government.

    (Cellphone is good for other things, which is why I have one of those too.)

  36. Michael A. Burstein:

    “Feel free to delete this comment.”

    Heh. You couldn’t have emailed this note if you thought it was a concern?

    Also, it’s not a concern. I’m in the phone book. Have been since I was in Ohio (and was in it before, too, when we lived in Virginia). Just because we have a public phone number doesn’t mean we answer the phone if we don’t feel like it. We don’t pick up if it’s not a number we recognize (or if it’s an anonymized number).

  37. Yep, all the reasons above. Seem to be quite a few belt-and-suspenders types here besides me.
    Same reason I have a gas range in the kitchen. I like the way it cooks, but even if I didn’t I’d have it in order to keep warm and be able to cook when the power goes out.

  38. Same here. I have one, will keep it as long as allowed by the landline corporations, for 8 of your 10 reasons, which do not include # 6 or 10 because, why? I could sure do without the spam calls, which flow in spite of Do Not Call lists, but they are pretty much a minor nuisance.

  39. I suspect my answer would change if it was not just me in the household. (Though it would stop my internet company from trying to sell me one. I can at least tell them that I literally do not own a TV to shut down trying to sell me cable*.)

    * I watch things on my computer monitor. Living alone means I don’t need a bigger screen.

  40. Two primary reasons for me:
    1) Remember Hurricane Ike here in SW Ohio? Five nines of reliability means something. No power for 11 days, cell phones stopped working for 2 days, but the landline worked the whole time.
    2) With a family of 5, it’s useful to have a phone that rings everywhere in the house so that whoever is nearest can pick up.

  41. We have one because my wife is European, and it is cheaper for her parents to call it than it is to call the cell phone. I don’t know how that works, but that is what she tells me.

    It doesn’t get answered unless it is the in-laws.

  42. I still have a landline (for DSL and most of the other reasons Scalzi listed), but Verizon is doing their damnedest to switch me over to FiOS. Heavy heavy pressure ever since they finally wired my neighborhood with fiber optic about 18 months ago. I will never get FiOS, partly for reasons involving their equipment and my aged house’s wiring and dearth of outlets, but I sometimes worry that Verizon is phasing out copper. I read on the Internets (so it must be true!!) that they are doing that in some areas. I suspect that mainly they will let the wires and equipment degrade, and too bad for me if the call quality or DSL speeds drop, they figure that I’ll get annoyed enough to switch to FiOS. Much as I have always loathed the cable companies, I might end up holding my nose and doing business with them if the landline problem ever does get that bad. So far, so good, though. I don’t like the sound quality of cell phones, I don’t give out my cell number, and I have a phone that doesn’t require electricity (as well as one that does) so I can use the phone in case of a power outage.

    Anyone who thinks DSL means cable and therefore the phone service is coming through cable has it backwards. Regular DSL comes over the phone line. I couldn’t tell from the comments whether those “it’s not really a landline” statements were directed toward Scalzi or just general observations.

    When my power goes out, the DSL is out because the modem runs on electricity, but the phone still works.

  43. Yeah, re: reliability and land lines. I spend a good chunk of the year living in a place where cell phone service is seriously unreliable (as in, I have occasionally had to go half a mile down the road to even begin to get a signal) and the electricity goes out, oh, three-four times a month. I have a land line that is attached to the wall. With a cord. By the way, we don’t get wifi or the usual forms of internet service, either–I may well end up being the last known person to use old-fashioned dial-up . . . speaking of a real pain.

  44. In response to BW, what you fear is exactly what Verizon just did in my neighborhood. I was recently forced to allow my landline to be converted from copper to fiber, the result being that reason #3 is no longer applicable in these parts. The technician did install a UPS to keep it running when the power is out, but that (and cold-calling sales people) are probably why I will probably decide to cancel the service entirely in the near future.

    It’s a shame. I still have two late 70’s vintage Western Electric rotaries that could probably withstand nuclear blasts and still work.

  45. I accidentally read the title as ‘land mine’. I was very concerned for a few seconds there!

  46. We have a landline mostly because it’s what we’re used to (I was born in 1979 and my husband was born in 1980). Also, because I am constantly forgetting where I left my cell phone. We use Vonage though, so in a power outage it wouldn’t do us much good.

  47. I still have a land line because thanks to liberals like Disraeli, messenger boys these days are too lazy.

  48. John, I believe I have you beat in old fartiness. I still have a Daytimer, which for speed and ease of use beats any PDA I’ve ever been shown, and if I drop it in the toilet it’ll still work when it dries out!

  49. Is not having a landline A Thing in America? Here in the UK it seems every household has one (although the area I used to live in was pretty rural and at the bottom of a valley so that might be a reason).

    Very few Belgian people have them, though, from my experience.

  50. I still have a landline (three of them actually, one at home and two at the office) because I live in San Francisco and cell phone coverage sucks. Even if I didn’t get POTS service bundled with by DSL, I’d have to keep the landline because my cell just plain doesn’t work in 60% of my apartment.

  51. We gave up the landline about 6 years ago and I’m sorry about it. I am deaf and options for TTY are limited on the computer as well as for my cellphone. When we first moved into our house, you only had to dial 5 digits to anyone else in the town. That lasted a few years and I thought it was really cool. Then development took over and we had to do full 7, now we have to do 11 (1+area code+plus number).

  52. We have a real honest to god landline at our place near Moab. Believe it or not there are still places without any reliable cell phone coverage.

    We only have to dial 7-digits too. Until about 20 years ago you could get away with 4 digits for local calls. The old-timers still tell people their number with just the 4 digits, because there is only one exchange…everybody in the county is 259-xxxx.

  53. Absolutely everything John said. We tried the VOIP thing for a while and it just didn’t work. It was no cheaper, it went out at the drop of a hat, and had terrible sound quality.

    The phone. It sits there in one spot so you don’t lose it, unlike cell phones. It never needs its battery charged. It works during power outages and natural disasters. It sounds great. Anyone can operate it without an instruction manual. 911 knows where I am, which is what you want when you need an ambulance, fire truck, or cops and may not be able to speak for a long time, being otherwise occupied losing consciousness, running away from fire, or hiding from home invaders. Whoever’s home deals with plumbers, repairmen, etc. Three people at once (we have 3 extensions) can talk to someone else who’s called, which is nice with family. And thus “It’s for you!” can be yelled into the other room.

    I’ve changed my residence once, my cell number thrice, and my email untold times since I got this landline number. But if you knew me 30 years ago? You still know where to find me.

    John, please keep that for life. You’re younger and in better health than me and my husband, so I’m happy knowing someone will be carrying on.

    We’re using newer handsets, though we do still have the formerly-rented big iron machines around. With REAL bells. If you wanted to mute those, you had to unscrew the bottom and stick something between bell and clapper. Two touchtone and maybe still a dial somewhere.

    Regarding the “911 knows where my cell is, old fogey!”: Nope. They don’t. Only within about 40 ft. If you’re in a multi-story building, they don’t know if you’re in the lobby or the penthouse. They’re working on getting the milspec locators that will zoom in on it that closely, but it’s going to be patchily installed over the next several years. If you live in an economically-depressed or not-so-techie area, nope, best keep your landline awhile longer.

  54. Still have one here too. Runs on my ISP line for $3 a month (Ooma). Call quality is tolerable. Fact that I get free calling throughout the US is nice.

  55. And yes VOIP is cheaper. $3 a month. End of story. Call quality is not as good as a regular line but can be put up with. If you have high end DSL or Cable, call quality is great (assuming you aren’t filling the pipe so to speak…)

  56. I have a phone that’s a little newer than that one, but it’s still a rotary phone, still works too! And it is plugged into a land line, but I tell you what, I agree with John about not answering it. If a person needs to get a hold of me and they know me, they have my cell, if they don’t, I’m not sure it’s really that important.

  57. I have a question for you: Do think there is more of a stigma about having a flip phone (I lovingly call my dumb phone) or a land line?

  58. Your home is a place of business, so it makes perfect sense above and beyond what you noted. Right now I use a cell for work and home, but as I expand, I will almost certainly have a business land line at least, and eventually a switchboard with several land lines.

  59. I wonder if government regulation of utilities differs between the copper wire phone company and cell phone companies in terms of reliability. I wouldn’t be surprised if it does. We’ve been in our home for 15 years and have had one brief interruption of phone service. Sure, your cell phone works NOW but in an emergency… when EVERYONE’S having an emergency, do you want to rely on a cell phone or on a land line? I’ll go with the simple, basic tech that’s been around for a century.

  60. I still have a landline — It is included with my DSL, with unlimited nationwide calls and unlimited calls to a growing number of countries outside the US. And it’s a number you can give to people instead of a cell number that they’ll expect you to answer at any time wherever you happen to be. But mostly, it’s good to have a very reliable service in earthquake country. (One caveat about that: If you’re relying on a landline during a power failure, make sure you have one old-school corded phone in an easily-accessible place. Cordless phones won’t be any use.)

    But then what do I know. My non-landline is a 9-year-old flip phone — It doesn’t even take pictures. It does have an awesome R2D2 ringtone, though.

  61. FYI: the phone in the picture is the Western Electric model 302, often referred to as the “I Love Lucy” phone. The original phones can still be used on many landlines; there are also modern replicas that have a pushbutton for each number in place of where the fingerholes would be in the dial.

  62. Well, in the UK, at least when I last lived there (Glasgow) in January 2014, you couldn’t get internet without having a landline, at least according to the service providers. I was desperate to dump my landline since in my own case it never got used: my contact with the outside world was mediated entirely via mobile, text, email and social networking. Paying for a useless landline just felt to me like another way for the internet companies to screw me. Perhaps there are technical reasons for it to be that way, but I still felt like I was being screwed.

    I’m in Taiwan now, where it’s remarkably easy and cheap to mediate that same internet service via a mobile phone, meaning I don’t need a landline.

  63. Please take as a sign of my respect the fact that you’re not receiving an influx of prank calls from me. It’s a massive amount of respect that fends off this temptation. Massive. (Plus I’m kinda scared of Krissie).

  64. I have all of John’s first 9 reasons, plus a legit 10th: my home security system requires a landline.

    My mother’s line is so old she still has copper wire. Verizon has been after her to change it out for fiber optic, but that would mean an 8-hour battery backup in event of a power loss, instead of continuous power. Having had the experience of my landline going down after a few hours of a blackout, I’m in favor of Mom holding out.

    My family are all native New Yorkers, and 9/11, the blackout of ’03, and Hurricane Sandy taught us a lot about what’s worth paying for in case of emergency.

    Like other commenters, I give my landline to businesses and websites and such that I don’t want to hear from (or that I suspect will sell my number to 3rd parties). I don’t answer it unless the caller ID is someone I know. People I actually want to hear from have my cell number.

  65. I still have a land line because I don’t have a cell phone. Back in the days before cell phones I worked construction and was given a text pager. I got over being in constant communication in no time. So far I have had less than 5 times when I thought it would have been nice to have one.
    And no I am not a technophobe. First personal computer in 1982, a TI99.

  66. We still have a landline. A few reasons for me include:

    1. The bundling thing, as you mentioned.
    2. redundancy in case I forget to charge the cell phone or the coverage is crap for some reason.
    3. landline is a convenient number to put on forms/accounts and so on. That way my cell # gets on very few telemarketing lists (yes, we’re on do not call, but we still get solicitation calls. The answering machine gets them). I only give my cell phone number to people I know personally.
    4. 50% reduction in dropped calls if only one person in conversation is talking on a cell phone.
    5. I sometimes find it harder to hear/understand other people on cell phones when I’m on a cell phone too. Sound quality is better on the land line.
    6. We still have a “family” phone #. If we only had our “own” cell phones, friends and family would have to choose who to call and talk to (I suspect most would choose my husband).
    7. Having a landline means I haven’t yet succumbed to the frantic, obsessive need to keep my cell phone on all the time and constantly be checking messages.
    8. Husband is always losing his cell phone or letting its battery die, so if he’s home, I can still get him on land line.
    9. Continuity thing. I’ve had my land line number for 15 years, and I like it, darn it.
    10. Shakes fist at young people and their constant knees-bent running around with their on the go lifestyles.

  67. There is also my personal favorite, we can listen to the answering machine and tell if it is a robocaller. If it is I can know for certain that it should be added to the database for declining on my cell phone.
    It’s a win/win. The robocaller gets it’s validation by leaving it’s embalmed message, and I get to keep reading and ignore it.

  68. Oh, there’s another reason to have one: when you’re calling a business that you know is going to leave you on hold forever and you don’t have unlimited minutes on your mobile phone plan.

  69. I keep a landline for most of the reasons John mentioned… but the primary, number-one, top dealbreaker for me is that cell phones don’t have extensions. I live in a house with thick walls, 10 ft ceilings, and many steep stairs. So I’d have to carry my cell phone on my person AT ALL TIMES in my own home to take calls. Otherwise, it would frequently be on a separate floor of the house, and it’s very unlikely I’d even hear it ring, let alone be able to get to it in time to answer. And if I am on a different floor for hours, then it would be hours before I even know that someone has called–which is a problem if someone is having an emergency and trying to reach me immediately.

    Whereas, with my landline extensions, I’m always within a few feet of a phone. So until/unless it becomes common for a cell phone service to accommidate multiple extensions on a number, the way a landline does, I will keep my landline.

  70. Da Beans: Do you still find that people use TTY? My daughter and her many friends haven’t used one in years. They’re more likely to use their cell phones (with Glide or something similar) or some form of videophone.

    We gave up our landline, but I still give out that number to some places. :-)

  71. @ Gary Gibson:

    If your internet connection is vanilla DSL rather than fibre or cable (which is the case for most people in the UK), you need to have the POTS landline “hardware” installed even if you don’t have phone service on it. Due to the way that the UK telephone system works, that means you need to pay line rental to BT even if they’re not your service provider, because they still own all the physical copper.

    Under those circumstances there’s very little benefit in not paying the extra couple of quid a month to have the phone service switched on.


    I think the complaint is a famous letter to Al-Nasir (?sp), a dealer in copper shipped from Dilmun (Bahrain) which was a transhipment point for copper from Makan (Oman). Al-Nasir was not doing well, and supplying inferior ingots to his customers, particularly Gimil-Sin (?sp) who complained. “Who among the Dilmun traders has treated me in this way?”
    Al-Nasir had, apparently, to sell off rooms of his house to get by.

    Thiis was what, 1800BC? Nothing much changes.


  73. Colonel Snuggledorf

    I too do not possess a mobile phone (that’s what we call them on this side of the pond) but I have no uplifting reason for it. it’s because I always lose the bloody things, and even my daughter has given up giving me them…

  74. Landlines are a necessary evil, but fun as all heck. Until you start dialing long distance or call 411 (information), then it’s fun to watch the inside of your wallet become populated with dust bunnies.

  75. Another person here with a dial phone, because that’s what I learned on, and the old Western Electric phones last forever. The one time I needed to call 911 I was incoherent – boyfriend was having a near-fatal asthma attack. It works through power outages, and the sound quality is excellent. I have a cell phone, but a pre-pay, and I have unlimited minutes on my land line. Cell phone is off most of the time when I’m home.

  76. People saying that their “landline” came with their cable/internet package: that’s not a landline. A landline is analog copper coming into your house, and it works even if you lose power. That alone is reason enough for us – we lose power for 20+ hours usually at least once a year, and without a landline we would have no connectivity at all during those times. At our house we only get cell coverage because I bought a nanocell and it requires the internet connection be up to work. Internet goes down, cell service goes down too.

  77. We got rid of ours because we were tired of the constant calls asking to donate money, do surveys, and wrong numbers. (Yes, I know about the do not call list and to ask to please take me off your list for non-profits/etc. but it was never enough.)

  78. I wanted to continue having a landline (with or w/o DSL) when we bought a new house last summer, but the phone company refused to admit it was possible (in a semi-suburban area next to Boston) even though the prior (deceased) resident had one up to 4 months before that. Since I could not force them to provide it I bought a VOIP box and hooked it to a Google Voice # to give to people likely to give the # to other companies.

  79. Our only phone is a landline (yes with copper wire). Nothing personal against these newfangled cell phones, but you have to drive about a mile to get out of the valley and into cell phone reception.

  80. John:

    “Heh. You couldn’t have emailed this note if you thought it was a concern?”

    Ha! Honestly, though, I’m not sure the handful of emails I’ve ever sent have ever actually gotten to you, as opposed to being caught in a spam filter, as I’ve never gotten a reply… :-) (Then again, I’m not sure if any of them ever necessitated a reply.)

    Also, the comment seemed to me to be a valid one to be part of this thread. In a way, it’s another reason to have a landline, which is to have a phone number still available in a public directory.

  81. I have a landline, as do 2 of my 5 adult children. In one case, the cable/internet package is cheaper if bundled with a phone than without it. In the other case, they moved from Utah to Arizona but kept the Utah cell phones. Work locations didn’t appreciate calling long distance to Salt Lake City to reach an employe in Phoenix.

  82. I wish I still had a landline. I like the feeling of the large receivers much better. But unlike so many here, I don’t have a compelling reason to have two phone numbers. Sigh.

  83. I have a land-line, and no cell-phone. Over 70% of the calls I get are calls I don’t want to get, and I don’t recall being in a situation where a cell-phone on my end would have been important to have, so I see no reason to get a cell-phone. Part of it is inertia, sure. But another part is that I see no reason to get a cell-phone, and so keep the land-line.

  84. We still have a landline. Your number 7 is a very, very compelling reason, for me. A landline also seems, generally, more communitarian. It’s connected to place, not person; it’s something shared for the common good of the household. It’s like payphones–something from landline days–that were available for everyone to use. Cell phones are part of every-man-for-himself-ism.

  85. Landline here, and a corded phone at that. Which means when (not if, I’m in an older neighborhood with trees bigger than some of the houses) a power line goes down I can still use the phone. We went cordless-only at work a few years back, and power/Internet outages kill the phones as well.

    Another good reason to keep my landline is for calls to places like my bank, where you’ve got to negotiate through a menu. It’s so much easier to do that if the keypad is sitting in front of you, instead of mashed against your face. Yeah, speakerphone setting, I know, but my cell’s speaker isn’t all that great.

  86. The landline comes bundled for me as well, but if it didn’t, I’d still want it. The reason for that is that I use it to find my cell when I’ve misplaced it around the house, or am unsure if I left it in the car. That turned out to be an extremely useful feature, surprisingly and ironically enough.

    It’s also a number to use for close friends and family when my cell is not functioning or, as happened once, stolen. I wouldn’t want to rely on an object that is basically floating in space to be the sole means for people to reach me.

  87. I still have a landline in my office. When I first started freelancing (writing) I tried a headset jack with a recorder for recording interviews, but cell phone quality was disastrously bad and dropouts were too common. Now I actually think the cell phone quality is more or less on part with the landline, but my digital recorder died recently (I don’t know why, something to do with the jacks, I guess), and I don’t do a lot of interview-based journalism any more. I did note that the last time I went to buy a landline phone it was damned hard to find one. I also feel, either because of the quality of the phone or the quality of the landlines, that the sound production isn’t as good as it used to be.

  88. Another reason to keep landlines: When we have external conference calls at work, anyone on a landline using a corded handset does not experience interruptions in their connection, but those using a cell phone or using the landline speakerphone do have that problem. I think it has to do with the phone automatically deactivating the mic when it senses other noises – that problem is avoided by using a corded handset which is too “dumb” to shut off its mic.
    I am very sad that our government in the state of Ohio will probably soon allow phone service providers to do away with the old copper landlines. The internet and cell phones are wonderful things, but it worries me to do away with our backups – eliminate redundancies, as others have said … feels like too many eggs in one basket, or something like that.

  89. You had me at “bork” and “unbork.”
    I don’t have a landline phone, simply because all I receive are telemarketer calls. But now they’re getting to my cellphone, too, so I guess it’s back to the landline we go…

  90. Reasons we still have a landline:

    – We worked hard to rewire the house to get the same phone line on all three apartments. (We have a hodge podge of communal living going on)

    – We have a cool phone number.

    – I am not willing to rely on a teenage babysitter remembering to charge their phone before coming over. Also calling 911 shouldn’t start with having to look for the phone.

    – Sometimes you want to call the house, not the person. “Hey, is anyone home right now? I need a cup of sugar.”

    – I want my kid to get practice answering the phone.

    – Sound quality is better.

    Mind you, our phone confuses the heck out of our roommate’s coworkers. (She is a barista and most of the people she works with are <25.) When I say "Hello, ” they often say “Oh, I think I have a wrong number” and I have to convince them that this is a good way to reach her.

    We cheaped out and don’t have caller ID, so I answer a lot of telemarker calls, but I’m pretty fast at them, and my five year old is getting the hang of them.

  91. I’d have added that the handset from a landline is easier to tuck into your neck when you need two free hands than a cell phone … and mine looks fabulous. I’d show you, but I can’t drop a picture into this thinky bit.

  92. I still talk to family and friends long distance on my landline phone to their landline phones. I also have a smartphone (4G), and have noticed that conversations are more fluid on a landline. When talking to people on my smartphone there is this what I call a “walkie-talkie” effect that happens, that is only one person at a turn can talk, because there is this split second delay in the signal. There are moments when both people start talking at the same time the signal cuts in on the other causing awkward overlapping conversations and followed by, “I’m sorry, you go first.” You almost want end your side of the conversation with “over” so the next person can reply. The conversation on a landline seems smoother, even when both parties start talking at the same time.

  93. I got a cheap add on for my fios package. Figured it would be good in case of emergencies. It’s also good when you use your smartphone to write down your take out order and need another phone to call.

  94. Mark Terry, fwiw, both Wal-Mart and RadioShack still sell old-fashioned corded phones, and AT&T sells them directly, too. The choices seem to be either “very, very cheap” or “HOW MUCH are you charging for that thing???” with no middle ground, but they are available–I suspect the preponderance of the cheap ones might have something to do with the quality issues you mention. (I’ve been looking into this because we need to buy a new corded phone, and I want a decent one–but I don’t want to break the bank.) AT&T also offers a kind of corded + cordless system that I might look into, though I’m not sure what the advantage over buying a corded phone plus a separate cordless one as an extension would be . . .

  95. We still have a landline too, for all the same reasons, plus the apartment’s keypad is linked to it so we can buzz in the restaurant delivery guys.

  96. We still have a land line, because it’s been the same number for forty years, because we can talk on extensions to the same people, all good, but *not* because it’s more “reliable” than a cell phone. The phone wires and the electric wires hang on the same poles, so if a falling tree or a traffic accident takes out a pole, they’re both gone. And the electricity will be back sooner, because they can reroute around the damage, and the phone company can’t.

    A few years back, we had a regional very bad weather event that took out several hundred square miles of phone and electric lines. I was out of town at the time, but I managed to stay in touch with my husband because we both had cell phones. Text messaging requires so little bandwidth that we could always squirt a message through any tiny little space that opened up.

    And we always carry our cell phones with us. We have dumb phones, but we find many other uses for them. For instance, we have alarm clocks in our pockets. For further instance, now that we’re getting old and rickety, we can call for help if we need it and the other one is in another room. Belt and suspenders, folks.

  97. Mary Francis: When looking for a decent-quality corded phone, have you tried your local Goodwill or equivalent? They’ll often have big old clunky indestructible Western Electric or Westinghouse phones for a buck or so, and I’ve never had a problem with the sound quality on my old phone. And did I mention they’re (nearly) indestructible?

  98. When we reached above 90% of landline calls were people trying to sell us things, we decided it was time to make the switch. It came down to only two people calling us on that line that we actually wanted to do so. My mother, who now calls my cell, and my sister in Canada. We trained my mother and got a special cheap package for Canada.

    Also, I only answer my cell phone if your name pops up. Otherwise, it goes to voicemail. The one exception is my very large employer. Those I answer, but I can tell by the numbers, it is work.

    Of the ones I don’t answer, most of them don’t leave a message.

    I should note that we are in a different place than some. Our last child is off to college in the fall. Much less of a need now. Or so it seems.

  99. You have to pay line rental to have internet anyway in the uk, so when i moved last year i did get a landline bundled with the internet and tv for free. Unlike many of the comments above only my immediate family members have the number, i am notoriously bad at keeping track of the mobile at home so they use the landline because i am more likely to answer it.

    In my job (inbound customer enquiry line) most people have both, but just as many have only a landline as have only a mobile (i know which is which because all mobiles start with 07 in the uk)

  100. Cally, I’ve considered it, but one of my family members has a very negative reaction to the idea of buying used technology–no matter how well-built it was in the first place. Since he’s the one who is likely to be the final decider regarding whatever phone I locate (it’s his house), I figure I’ll let him have his way . . . but thanks for the suggestion. If anyone else is on the same search, it’s a good one!

  101. Items 2 (20+ years), 3, 4, 5, 6 (hubby not wife), 7, 9 and the 911 issue. I also leave my cell phone in the charger and don’t hear it while in other parts of the house/yard.
    Additionally we have a home business as well as our day jobs: reprinting business cards, stationary, invoices, etc. can be expensive.

  102. I use an ooma VOIP system, which runs me about $3.50 a month. I have a cordless phone base-station plugged into it, and four cordless phones scattered about the house, so when it rings it rings everywhere.

    In front of that I have a Google Voice number which I’ve had since at least sometime last decade, so changing phone numbers is never a problem.

    I’m apparently one of the few people in the country who does not have (or want) a cell phone.

  103. I still have landline, and only that, for phone service and DSL. The primary advantage to me, as has been mentioned by many others here, is the combination of call display and caller ID. I don’t get out and around much any more, so don’t really need (or want) a mobile device — the only thing that could change that is that most online institutions using two-factor authentication for login seem to assume landlines are *already* gone and typically use texting to send the one-time code.

    Something like 6 months ago, my ISP bought out Bell’s local switching station, only about 5 blocks from here, and offered phone service for about half what Bell had been charging us, even before the bundle-discount. Our biggest gain was long-distance calls … Bell had charged us 10c/minute to anywhere in N America, with a monthly service charge plus it was only in effect during Bell’s standard discount hours (i.e., evenings and weekends). Under our new plan, it’s down to 5c/min 24/7, with no extra monthly fee.

    Speaking of long distance, there’s an interesting change in procedure from way back when. I’m in area 519, which has served southwest Ontario since the birth of direct-dial LD … about two or three years ago, as was the case many other places with the massive increase in mobile usage, we wound up needing a second area code (226) for the same region, which code was pretty much restricted to mobile providers. And that meant learning to add the area code even to local calls, including on any speed-dial buttons. And now I hear we can expect a third area code later this year, since the “new” one is already nearly all allocated.

  104. With Radio Shack having declared bankruptcy, they might have really good deals on corded phones right now. Worth a look. I think the handset I use the most came from there, and the sound quality is fine.

    And yes, if you’re on hold or having to navigate a menu of the likes of “Aprima numero uno para Espanol” and then navigating 10 more levels and having to hold for a real person… land lines win.

    Plus, you can’t bludgeon a home invader with your cellphone. You’ve called 911 on your iPhone and the cops are trying to triangulate to figure out where you are, so it’s going to take them a while to get there and you’re defenseless. Meanwhile, alternate universe you has a giant Western Electric handset: the cops know your exact address and are speeding towards you, and bust down the door to find you’ve slowed down the bad guy by applying a solid chunk of 20th century American ingenuity upside his head.

    (That there’s an idea you writer-types can have for free.)

  105. We still have a landline with one wireless and one wired phone attached. I use the wired phone when I want to have a more secure conversation with say, the IRS, my bank, or some other institution that wants information I want to keep secure; cell phone conversations are not private.

  106. Cell phone, but also Google Voice, so I basically have a landline in case I lose the cell. Last time I had a landline was college, and I can’t say I’ve ever missed it–but then again, I live on my own in the middle of a city, so a lot of the reasons here don’t apply to me. (And if my cell phone breaks…meh, I don’t charge it half the time anyhow. Anyone who has really urgent business can email me, because really, it’s the twenty-first century.)

  107. We have a land line phone number because my husband’s work requires it. However everything has gone digital here, which means that if the power goes out the phone won’t actually work! So it feels pretty pointless.

  108. Tom N: I don’t have a TTY but do need one for home and work. I used to use a program that worked through Skype but that shut down. It looks like Glide has to be used by both parties to be adequate. I will look into it, though; perhaps I’m wrong. I have more limitations because I’m not a fluid signer. Most deaf use an interpreter service for calls via video.

  109. We still have a corded landline, for reasons #2-9, but also because my mom is elderly, and for her to have to figure out a cellphone in an emergency would be a seriously bad idea.

  110. I have a landline because:
    1. People still use the number.
    2. My cell phone isn’t surgically attached to my body, but I can put landline handsets in many places.
    3. The marginal cost is almost nothing in a triple-play bundle.
    4. Defense in depth re various outages.

    I have a corded phone because:
    1. It works during a power outage.

    HOWEVER: I learned that the corded phone runs off a battery and if the battery is out of juice, the corded phone doesn’t work during a power outage. OF COURSE I learned this during a power outage. Learn from my mistake, folks, and check with your provider about this little quirk.

  111. I have a landline in my house. Both my girlfriend and I both wish we could get rid of it, for mainly financial reasons, but we need it for our Broadband.

  112. @ Harry 10:24 The (3rd party) wired phone I currently use has a handy feature for that. Similar to most TV remotes, it’s got some kind of memory buffer which retains all settings etc. for about a minute after you remove the batteries, plenty of time to put fresh ones in. And with two young grand-kids visiting every weekend, we’ve had to always make sure we have a generous supply of AAs and AAAs on hand, if only for their toys (this phone uses 4 double-As).

    As a bonus, its caller-display screen can be tilted to any of several positions within about a 30-degree range, so it’s fairly easy to find one which takes best advantage of ambient light.

  113. I think most of the “how quaint, a landline” people are probably urban people who cannot imagine people living a lifestyle different than their own.

  114. My local phone company (a co-op, since this was too sparse an area for Bell to bother with back in the day) sent out warnings a few months back that rotary phones might not work with the new switchgear they’re putting in – and then backed off, as apparently they will. (I still have a landline, both for DSL and in case of power outages…and also because I’m quite capable of sleeping through a cell ringtone. If I’m on-call for work, they have instructions to call the home number, because I know the bell will wake me up.)

  115. You and I may be in competition to see who has the very last one. I keep thinking I should get rid of mine, but it has its advantages. Especially since my husband is not particularly good with cell phones and I don’t plan to become his secretary on mine.

  116. I think we’ll be keeping our landline till the cows come home, personally. Bequeath it to our kid, even. For all the reasons you list, plus “The phone number is a cool one and losing it would suck.”

  117. Verizon has been badgering me for years to give up my landline which I refuse to give up. (They don’t want to maintain the copper lines.) The battery backup time for FIOS is maybe 8 hours and power outages can be frequent and lengthy where I live. Friends didn’t realize until the battery died and left them for four more days scrambling to charge their cell phones. 911 is also an issue.

  118. We definitely have a land line. We have friends with cellphones and the call quality is atrocious. No wonder so many people use text messages instead of just making a quick call. We also like the killer “just pick up the other phone” app. Surely we aren’t the only people living together with friends, relatives or business interests in common.

    We did get rid of our television. We had a satellite dish, but the shows we liked tended to go on hiatus for so long that the satellite modem’s boot loader couldn’t upgrade its software when the new seasons came out.

  119. No, my in-laws will definitely be the last landline hold-outs. Forget cell phones – they still use rotary dial phones. I hope I never have to make an emergency call from their house, because I can’t. When I try to use their phone, I always drop a digit and the call won’t complete. It would be faster for me to run to the next farm for help.

  120. Since some people are suggesting otherwise, I think it may be good to note that in some places it is possible to get an Internet service bundle that does include a proper, old-fashioned, analog telephone line. And in the vast majority of places, it’s still at least available separately. DSL network service was designed to co-exist on the same copper lines as POTS (plain old telephone service) signals. The phone company may prefer to move you to an all-digital service with a VOIP (voice over IP) box in your house because it’s cheaper for them. But at least some of will still give you a package deal that includes the good stuff.

    Having worked on the recovery from hurricane Sandy, where no communication was reliable but POTS kicked all kinds of butt over the cellular and network providers, you’ll have to pry my “legacy” phone service from my cold, dead hands.

    In some states, the reliability of that service is mandated by law. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to have been a federal requirement. But even in other places, the inter-war and post-war engineers who created the old AT&T infrastructure built the hell out of that system. There are well-attested stories of entire exchange buildings collapsing, and the old switches continuing to click away for five days under the rubble, running on huge old banks of lead-acid batteries.

    Forgive me if this response is both late and excessive, but I really think that reliable communication in the event of a regional emergency can be a big issue, especially for people who are vulnerable medically or otherwise. If you’re not sure where you stand, consider unplugging all the power cords attached to equipment provided by your phone company, and seeing if you can still make a call in a day or two’s time. If you don’t like the answer, call the telco and ask them about alternatives. It will probably be more expensive, but the piece of mind may be worth it.

  121. I want a landline. And I want one that is an actual phone line, not Internet phone. There are reasons I can’t get one right now, but when I get those reasons resolved I will be obtaining one. Period. I’m sick of dropped calls, and bad signals, and having my phone access dependent on the electricity. And Internet phone sucks because if your Internet goes down you are right back at square one.

    I have a feeling we will never see landlines completely go away, for that reason. Civilization would have to collapse first.

    I wouldn’t get it for the DSL though. I’ve had DSL once where it was worth it and I lived across the street from a switching station. Otherwise the signal slows down. Cable is usually a better deal–and I just get the Internet access by itself, because I was sick of cable TV ages ago.

  122. I’ve a thinky bit! my landline loves me. it bewilders vendors and robocallers. it comforts my elderly relatives who don’t understand that we each have a different number. it has always seemed to work in an emergency. I don’t need to remember to do anything to it (charge it, put a 3″ protective vibram shield around it…) and I don’t recall reading or hearing where one has ever given anyone a brain tumor. I believe the jury is still out on that last one regards cell phones, insomuch as there are relatively few years on which to base observable scientific evidence. I love you too, landline.

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