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The Decline of the Landline

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the daddy-what-were-buggywhips? dept.

Communications 435

Death Metal writes "The phone network is thus not just a technical infrastructure, but a socioeconomic one. The more Americans abandon it to go mobile-only or make phone calls over the Internet, the more fragile it becomes: its high fixed costs have to be spread over ever fewer subscribers. If the telephone network in New York State were a stand-alone business, it would already be in bankruptcy. In recent years it has lost 40% of its landlines and revenues have dropped by more than 30%."

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Decline of the Landline (0)

DotWarner (56614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121935)

...Decline of the line!

Re:Decline of the Landline (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122029)

In case of WW3 or a natural disaster wouldn't landlines provide better service or be restored to service quicker than anything else? Unless maybe ham radio replaced them in emergency communication?

Re:Decline of the Landline (2)

von_rick (944421) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122119)

Strike the telephone exchange in the town and you end its ability to communicate with landlines. If you have to disable the wireless networks, it would require you to take down several centers to isolate a place.

Re:Decline of the Landline (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122211)

Well, maybe not. If your carrier has your phone locked to their network, and they switch a large number of towers out of one location, take that switch facility out, and your cell phone/data card is a paperweight. At least, until you move to a functioning service area.

Re:Decline of the Landline (4, Insightful)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122489)

Who needs WW3 to realize the value of land lines? Did you not watch War of the Worlds (the George Pal version)? Remember the scene when the power failed and the phones were out, also? Normally the average power failure does not affect the landline phone system because it is on a different electric circuit. Anyone who truly wants to "stay connected" in an emergency needs to consider that very likely the landlines will still work after a power failure, and continue to work even after the cell phone batteries die and cannot be recharged. (Even if you had a solar-power battery charger, what of the power for the cell towers?)

It may be OK for the landlines to be removed from service (lotta copper there, to recycle), but only AFTER the wireless networks are robust enough for people to stay connected in emergencies.

Re:Decline of the Landline (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122509)

Only as long as the towers are down. A cell site can be rolled in and brought up in minutes. Unfortunately, the same is not able to be said for the Landline service.

No reason for a landline (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122677)

In the WW3 scenario a nuke would more then likely be detonated at a high altitude releasing an EMP, all electronics would be effected that are not hardened or inside faraday cages. Natural disasters generally take out phone lines satellite phones are the only chance of being able to communicate. With large power outages the power on the phone line disappears too. The only advantage a landline has is during local power outages but cell phones will work so all that is lost is VoIP unless your router is connected to an ups. What most people have realized is that an extra $40 a month is not buying anything especially now that they can keep their phone number.

Re:Decline of the Landline (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122123)

my penis made a beeline for your mother. that line did not decline. i fucked your mom right in her pussy and left her a big creampie

Re:Decline of the Landline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122499)

But telephone network in New York State is not a stand-alone business. Most phone companies also sell cell service, internet service, etc. so don't worry, they're doing ok

Re:Decline of the Landline (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122579)

Incase noone else got this, It was a play on Insane in the Membrane Insane in the Brain!

why would you ... (3, Insightful)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121939)

... keep your landline? we ended up disconnecting our landline ... we were getting charged like $70 for unlimited long distance, the whole 9 yards ... instead we now have a $70 cell phone plan that also has unlimited long distance, the whole 9 yards ... plus I can text message, play games, surf the net, and most importantly it's mobile. I can take it wherever I want. Why would you keep your landline? If you really think you need one, I suggest getting cell phone and duct-taping it to your wall!

Re:why would you ... (5, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121989)

One compelling reason is quality. For instance, I had some job interviews recently, and I'd never do an interview over a cell phone. You worry about the calls cutting out, cuts here and there in the quality, and not being able to hear a question over the phone just looks bad.

Re:why would you ... (0)

von_rick (944421) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122267)

Unless you have a corded telephone you can't really get great sound quality even over a landline. The cordless units these days tend to pick up all kinds of static, mostly because there is so much more noise emerging from all the wireless devices that have popped up in the last decade.Another problem is that if the place you have your corded phone gets noisy during the interview, you can't go to a quieter place during the interview.

Re:why would you ... (1)

oracleguy01 (1381327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122015)

Businesses still need land lines unless you plan on giving everyone a work cell phone or have them share phones. In a home environment, you certainly have a point. And even if you like have a regular phone at home, there are those cell phone bridges or whatever they are called where you can connect the phones in your house to it when you are at home.

Re:why would you ... (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122199)

Businesses still need land lines unless you plan on giving everyone a work cell phone or have them share phones.

Or, you know, just get VoIP.

Re:why would you ... (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122323)

Businesses still need land lines unless you plan on giving everyone a work cell phone or have them share phones.

At my company in Norway, everybody got a cellphone (or the company pay the bill if you want to keep your current phone). In fact, my understanding is that when you call, say, customer's support, the call gets routed to the cellphone of the person who is supposed to be on-call.

And I got the impression when I was interviewing around that it was pretty much standard.... Then again, the coverage in Norway is a little bit better than the US.

Re:why would you ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122651)

Here in the USA for Sysadmins, network admins, emergency HVAC guys and the like that is pretty standard.

Re:why would you ... (5, Informative)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122017)

Why do I keep my landline?

My security alarm needs it
The sound quality is far better than any cell I've ever had
During my 5 day power outage, my landline still worked

Re:why would you ... (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122229)

Yes, to all of the above.

Another big one is comfort. Talking on a cell phone, even the best high-end models, for very long is just uncomfortable for me. Cell phones are fine for quick "Hi, honey, I'm at the grocery and I can't remember if we're out of butter" calls, but with friends and family scattered all over the country, I spend a lot of time on one- or two-hour calls and I've never used a cell phone that I can tolerate for that long. I can't believe I'm the only person who finds this to be so.

Re:why would you ... (2, Interesting)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122283)

Buy a good headset. With a decent plantronics headset I can talk for 14 hours straight (not that I like to). Even my wired phones I use a headset. I hate holding a phone. I need both my hands for typing and mousing.

Re:why would you ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122291)

I can believe you are the only person who hasn't heard or a Bluetooth (or hell, even wired) headset.

Re:why would you ... (1)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122329)

I can't believe I'm the only person who finds this to be so.

You're not. []

Re:why would you ... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122399)

I can only speak for myself here, but I don't typically have two-hour-long calls to family scattered throughout the country. I have a family forum, email, IM, and if I want something personal rather than plain text, there's video chat (though not everyone in the family has that capability... yet).

Even the oldest generation still alive (in their 80s) have email, and in the next generation down (50s and 60s) you start to see video chat. With the 20-somethings, they'll get annoyed if you try to engage them in a long phone conversation because they're more comfortable with IM.

Re:why would you ... (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122557)

Your family seems more technologically advanced than most. Neither my mom nor my aunt have email, or even a computer. But I rarely do long phone calls either.

Re:why would you ... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122695)

With the 20-somethings, they'll get annoyed if you try to engage them in a long phone conversation because they're more comfortable with IM.

I just don't get that. It's so ass-backwards it's ridiculous. It's like calling sending someone an email and getting an irritated reply asking you to send all future correspondence by Western Union Telegram.

Re:why would you ... (1)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122719)

Get yourself one of these [] and you will be set.

Re:why would you ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122351)

During my 5 day power outage, my landline still worked

Well, don't let them upgrade your line to fiber then. That depends on power at the terminal, and the dinky UPS they provide won't last that long.

Re:why would you ... (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122437)

You cell phone quits when you lose power? How does that work?

Re:why would you ... (1)

jidar (83795) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122589)

The cell towers need power. They usually have a battery system that can keep them going for a few hours, but most cell towers do not have backup generators. During serious power outages that affect a very large area it's not unusual for cell phones to not work.

Re:why would you ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122635)

What magic keeps the POTS working?

Re:why would you ... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122605)

When the CO loses power, you have, at best, 72 hours of service. If you lose the CO, you lose the whole enchilada. With a Cell Phone, I can put it on a car-charger, laptop charger, or primary cell based "emergency" charger and be back up.

Six of one, half dozen of another, actually. When Katrina did in the areas she did, which was up and up and running faster? And you'd have to nail a lot more sites and not be able to roll in CoW trailers/trucks to not end up with service.

Re:why would you ... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122621)

That's the case at my house. I don't have a cell, but if my wife wants to use hers the first step is to plug the thing in to charge. For trips, I'm sure to plug the charger into the cigarette lighter 'cuz I know it's going to be dead. I'm sure I'm not alone here...

Re:why would you ... (3, Funny)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122505)

Can't audio data from cell phones be sent and received in mp3 format? It would improve quality immeasurably by using a digital format like this surely?

Re:why would you ... (1)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122561)

If you live in the United States (or several other countries), you can probably get "naked" DSL without phone service. That's not to deny that there are good reasons to keep your land line, but FYI.

Re:why would you ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122587)

We had a 7 day outage at my place, the cell phones worked the whole time. Car chargers and AA to cell chargers rock.

Re:why would you ... (4, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122609)

You don't need voice service on your landline for DSL. If Qwest told you this(they tried to tell me this), they lied.

Newer GE Security alarms support cellular networks, although this does increase your monthly monitoring bill by $30 or more.

Got me there, hard line voice quality is very good. As for reliability, I've never had a long term outage on any cell carrier or a land line so I can't differentiate the two.

Re:why would you ... (1)

cold1s (892039) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122611)

Also, you can use it to pull grandma in for dinner if her tin can is bent.

Re:why would you ... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122613)

DSL is the only one of those I find valid in my area.

My security system uses the cell network to phone home.
The phone lines in the area generally suck, so you're not likely to get better sound quality on a landline than you would get with a decent cell phone.
During hurricane Isabel a few years ago, the cell coverage was only slightly diminished, whereas the phone and cable lines were down over a week.

When I had DSL I saved a significant amount of money by paying for only the bare minimum phone service (911 only, toll service on local calls) and never had a phone hooked up to the line.

Re:why would you ... (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122661)

In most markets you dont need a phone for DSL. You can get a dry loop.

>My security alarm needs it

Why cant it use wifi or why cant they provide their own communications? I shouldnt have to pay 40-50 dollars a month just in case my security system needs it. Sounds like a problem with the security company's lack of innovation.

>The sound quality is far better than any cell I've ever had

With a headset I cant tell the different between landline and voip/cell, unless there is static or some other connectivity issue.

>During my 5 day power outage, my landline still worked

Sometimes the opposite is true. Cell phone works when landlines dont. I know this has been the case for several disasters. Turns out stringing wires all over the place can be fragile.

Re:why would you ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122699)

Why would I get rid of my landline?

It costs roughly $30/month here in Chicago with much of it being taxes and quasi-fees. This is just to have the phones active in my house. I have to pay extra for any "features" like voicemail or call-waiting that come for free on my cell phone. Additionally, I have to pay per minute for local calls and have to pay out the nose for long distances calls.

In the long run, a cell phone in not only more convenient than a landline, but it can also be cheaper (if you get a service like cricKet).

Re:why would you ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122049)

My parents keep theirs for two reasons: 1. To use their dial-up internet. 2. So they don't have to give my grandmother their cell phone numbers.

Re:why would you ... (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122393)

2. So they don't have to give my grandmother their cell phone numbers.

As strange as that might sound, I do know a few people that keep their landlines just to keep certain individuals from calling them on their cell phones.

Re:why would you ... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122173)

... keep your landline? we ended up disconnecting our landline ...

The only reason I had a land line for the longest time was the alarm system. Now you can get those wireless too these days and I got upgraded to wireless system which is cell phone based so we finally got rid of the old land line.

Which is superior because now we don't have to worry about the neighbors tree knocking it out anymore or someone trying to cut the phone cord before breaking in.

Re:why would you ... (1)

rakkasan (444517) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122189)

For us it was a simple decision. The landline came bundled with a new fiber optic internet and tv/cable service here in southern MN. I'm fairly happy with it even if the local ma bell is bitter about the whole competition thing. Free local long distance and crystal clear communication is nice and since I don't personally own a cell - the wife does - work has a number to call, not that I answer it every time. Now if the damn telemarketers would stop calling me!

Re:why would you ... (1)

CRiMSON (3495) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122549)

Last time I checked, my DSL services wasn't offered over a landline.

Re:why would you ... (1)

CRiMSON (3495) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122573)

Last time I checked, my DSL services wasn't offered over a landline.

Dammit.. cellphone.. blah

Land Lines (4, Informative)

IMightB (533307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121953)

I might have kept a landline, if it weren't for the fact that the only calls that I ever got on it were Telemarketers.

Re:Land Lines (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122059)

Actually telemarketers is the main reason I have kept my land line. I am afraid that if I started using my cell phone for all my calls, that I will soon be inundated with calls I don't want.

I realize there is a do not call registry, but they increasingly get around that, plus it doesn't do a thing to prevent charities and political organizations from calling.

Re:Land Lines (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122439)

Telemarketers calling cell phones using autodialers is supposed to be illegal. And all are legally required to stop calling if you tell them to take you off their list.

Re:Land Lines (4, Informative)

adamstew (909658) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122453)

It is illegal for any telemarketer or any organization to call you on a cell phone for commercial purposes, including charities, etc. unless you already have an existing current business relationship with that specific business ("marketing partners, etc." don't count). This is also true for 800 numbers, pagers and any other type of phone line where you might be charged to receive the call.

The penalties are pretty stiff too. You don't have to ask them to remove you, you do not have to register your number with any private or government list. If they call you, and you don't have an existing current business relationship with that company, you can sue them for $1500 in statutory damages in small claims court. Courts have found that you can name both the telemarketing firm and the business that the firm may be calling on behalf of in the suit.

This fine gets extended to companies where you might have an ended business relationship with... i.e. you call your cable company and cancel your account, you've just ended the relationship. They can call you to finish business (i.e. past due collections, etc.) But if they call you to try and give you a special offer or to sell you anything, you can sue em.

From the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991: All unsolicited commercial telephone calls "No Person May" "Initiate any telephone call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice," "To any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call;"

Re:Land Lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122297)

Bingo. 4 years ago I wouldn't have dreamed of owning a cell phone. A new job required me to have one just 2 years ago, but I kept the land line. Until 80% of the calls were telemarketing, political, health department surveys, duns for old owners of the number, and so on ad nauseum. I have had enough. I won't go back.

Re:Land Lines (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122405)

That's the main purpose of my answering machine. It's still annoying when it rings, but I don't have to talk to the vermin.

Now, if I could just get my mom to leave a message so I know she's not a spammer. *sigh*

Dated Technology... (1)

toxygeneb (1384597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121955)

Well what a shame. Dated technology that doesn't do what we want. Of course it's on the way out. And the businesses have no right to survive. If it's a socially necessary utility then the municipality should be running it for the benefit of the citizens (and by some private firm for the benefit of shareholders). Let it die and bring on the new!

Re:Dated Technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122047)

There's just something about a bus-powered redundant emergency communication network... I'll miss when the landline finally dies. Especially during hurricane season.

Re:Dated Technology... (1)

toxygeneb (1384597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122303)

But of course. I didn't say there wouldn't be an alternative. Newer tech can fill the void and bring bigger benefits. FTTH anyone? Landline phones and the supporting copper infrastructure should have been thrown out years ago. But we all know how the US and it's little bitch, the UK, love industry more than fast, effective progress for the betterment of society as a whole.

Re:Dated Technology... (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122249)

In the case of the landline and a lot of other technologies, I agree. Who needs buggy whips when everyone has one of them thar newfangles automobiles?

On the other hand, some very useful technologies have died [] . At four years old the linked article is a bit dated; car stereo knobs have made a comeback, for instance. But when your power goes out in a January ice storm, you're going to wish you had a gas gravity furnace with its power pile.

(I followed that article up with Good Riddance to Bad Tech [] . Who needs eight tracks? I always hated them!)

Hope Not! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29121965)

I've been through one too many hurricanes in my life and the one thing that worked when all hell was breaking loose outside was the landline. When all else failed I was, more often than not, able to still get a dial tone.

Re:Hope Not! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122333)

Hurricanes are nothing once you've been in a tornado, as I know from personal experience [] . I've been in both. When the tornados hit here [] in 2006, I was without power for a week and cable for a month. It was two or three weeks before my neighbors who actually had landlines had a working phone. Meanwhile, my cell phone not only didn't stop working (I charged its battery at work) but I used it for a flashlight to get down to my basement apartment.

None here. (1)

calspach (1538595) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121969)

I haven't had a land-line for about 5 months now. Haven't missed it yet. Each member of my family has thier own cell phone, so we didn't really see the point anymore.

Of course it's declining (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121973)

Cell phones are simply far more useful. I live by myself; or did until two weeks ago. Why would one person need two phones? My new girlfriend has her own cell phone, why would we need a third?

My elderly father says "I did without a cell phone for over seven decades, why would I need one now?" I pointed out that they're handy in an emergency, he countered with "my car has on-star". I didn't bother to mention that pay phones have almost become extinct. I pointed out that with most cell phones, long distance calls are free, he countered with the ONLY advantage a landline has -- you can have two phones on the same line. Yes, you can have a three way call on a cell, but it's usually an extra cost for the call, and at any rate Dad's ushing eighty and wouldn't have the patience to use the feature.

When the tornados hit Springfield in March 2006, I would not have had phone service for a week were it not for my cell phone.

He remonds me of my maternal grandfather, who said "I did without indoor plumbing all my life, I don't need it now". Even after my uncle installed a bathroom, Grandpa still used the outhouse.

Re:Of course it's declining (3, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122137)

Grandpa still used the outhouse.

Man. I hate SBC/AT&T as much as the next guy, but even I think that metaphore was pretty harsh...

Re:Of course it's declining (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122209)

your eldery father HAS a cellphone. His OnStar is a cellphone.

also you can hook 2 or more regular phones to a cellphone. I do it all the time with my bluetooth to phone adapter. Wife and I pick up 2 cordless phones and talk to my brother in florida.

So the only advantage that landline has is gone.

Re:Of course it's declining (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122355)

When the tornados hit Springfield in March 2006, I would not have had phone service for a week were it not for my cell phone.

When the floods hit Iowa in 2008, I did not have cell phone service for 3 days. I'm just saying, you can't really count that as a total win for cell phones; the systems are dangerously under developed when an unusually large number of people are trying to use them all at the same time, which is exactly what happens when a major disaster strikes.

Now, that being said, I was still able to get the occasional text message through by repeatedly sending it until it succeeded. It was enough to at least let my wife know where I was, what my plans were, and that the house was not yet underwater. I'm not sure what the land line situation was like in our city, but the internet was working throughout the two weeks that the problems were on going.

Re:Of course it's declining (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122473)

Point out to him that On-Star *is* a cell phone, maybe.

It's not only the switch to cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29121983)

The switch from dialup to broadband too, noone needs to have a landline just to connect to the internet anymore.

But without landlines... (5, Funny)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121997)

how do you get back out of the Matrix?

Re:But without landlines... (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122039)

You're stuck.. Thats part of the reason.

Re:But without landlines... (1)

pm_rat_poison (1295589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122093)

Maybe the machines are erasing the landlines from the matrix to stop humans from going back and forth in the matrix all wily-nily

Re:But without landlines... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122409)

Landlines were part of the Construct. They weren't real either.

Missing them already?

Evolution... (3, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122025)

All that will happen is that the major telecoms will switch over to being infrastructure providers for TCP/IP-based communications. You may get VoIP through Comcast or Cox, but they'll have to buy their infrastructure from a division of Verizon or AT&T.

Re:Evolution... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122469)

I can ALREADY get VOIP via Cox. In fact, you can get VOIP from Qwest, called 'Broadband Phone Service', in some areas...

And you can only order 'Broadband Phone Service' over the phone... :)

Funny? Not really, sort of, unfortunately. Mostly sad.

(In)Stability could be the cause (3, Insightful)

von_rick (944421) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122043)

These days its getting harder for people to retain a steady profession and have to move quite frequently. This has made it necessary for most people to rely on the mobile phones as their primary line rather than the landline. Many people often have to transfer their landline calls to their cell phones when they are on the move. The limitations of landlines and the socio-economic situation of present is making it hard for people to consider landlines.

Fairpoint sucks (2, Interesting)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122051)

Here in Northern New England, our telephone company is Fairpoint Communications.

Their billing system is so messed up that the state of New Hampshire will not allow them to disconnect delinquent accounts.

They will undoubtedly be filing for bankruptcy within a year or two.

Fairpoint was not prepared for this. They are a miserable little two-bit operation and have no business even attempting to handle over a million land lines.

Of course Comcast is loving every minute of it.

Re:Fairpoint sucks (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122293)

I live in Maine, so I feel your pain.

Well, actually, no. When we moved back home, we moved into a house that hadn't had landline service in about a decade (previous owners switched to cell because they traveled a lot). We decided that was a pretty cool idea, and hooked up with Vonage for our "landline". I haven't done business with Verizon (good thing, I don't want to call for service and have some guy come and beat me up), or FairPoint at all.

Several neighbors and family members are on FairPoint and thank goodness they haven't had any billing or other disputes or issues. For those who have had problems, I understand it's an utter nightmare.

About the only good argument for a landline any more is 911. But with GPS-enabled cell, that's not even valid any more.

Re:Fairpoint sucks (1)

kaszeta (322161) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122525)

While I agree 100% that Fairpoint sucks (I've had no end of ridiculous billing problems from them since February...), Verizon sucked in a lot of ways as well, especially for those of us up in the rural parts of the state. Despite literally having a Verizon fiber bundle running over my land, I was never able to even get decent dialtone service from them, and as far as DSL or other high-speed service? Their official answer was that we'd never get it. Ever.

The phone companies are in the situation they are in since they didn't plan for the future. For more than a decade it's been clear that voice services were going to cell and VOIP, and they sat there and didn't figure out how to handle the infrastructure costs to stay competitive in the long run.

If comcast can run service to my place, so could Verizon and Fairpoint.

Re:Fairpoint sucks (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122543)

Fairpoint was just a scam to give Verizon an out from 'losing' (not making as much as they wanted) money in the Northeast, especially Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

A pox on them both. I used to live there. Phone service should have been a license to print money, but tyhey hosed it up and probably hve a kickback sceme running with Fairpoint. Worst case scenario, Fairpoint collapses and Verizon gets it all back and keeps what Fairpoint paid them. Best case scenario, Time-Warner and the other ISPs eat their lunch and dinner with VOIP, if they can keep the landlines dry...

Irony (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122061)

The timing of this article is ironic for me. My other half is visiting NY (we live in the UK) and just called to tell me her mobile got trashed in an accident but wouldn't have worked anyway as it doesn't support the US frequency bands.

Of course, that call was pretty short, since landline calls from the hotel to the UK are $5.50 for the first minute and $3.50 per minute after that. It's hard to imagine why people would eschew a service offering such clear value for money in favour of flat rate services like writing an e-mail! :-)

Re:Irony (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122301)

Umm... hotel calls are just plain expensive. 30 min long distance call from Boston to Florida was close to $250...

Re:Irony (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122607)

Obviously she will be picking up a prepaid GSM phone, since they work for voice here and the UK.

What was that again, her UK phone wouldn't work here? uh, no. Just need a prepaid SIM, which can be hard to find in the U.S.

We still have ours (1)

itsownreward (688406) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122063)

We keep our landline because we have an alarm system that needs a phone line to dial in and VoIP isn't reliable enough, even if it can carry the traffic. We could probably get a cellular unit for it to use instead, but that's another reason we keep the landline: cellular coverage out in our neck of the woods isn't the best.

Re:We still have ours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122721)

I have a burglar alarm too, monitored with a Honeywell 7845GSMR. It has an internal antenna, but they also have a small and large external antenna if you need it--I have the 7845GSMR high up in a closer and the antenna in the attic.

Next, we want voice verification--where alarms can be verified via a speakerphone mounted near the keypad, instead of requiring the central station to call my cell phone. This is done with a Honeywell UVS ($150), consisting of a board in the control cabinet and a speakerphone mounted near the keypad. This supposedly requires a landline, however, we will do this:

- Cisco WRP400 wi-fi/router/VoIP provisioner ($100)
- APC Back-UPS HS ($100) [optional[

The central station will serve as my VoIP provider, which will be a lot more reliable [and cheaper] than using Vonage. If we have a power failure, voice verification will continue to work for about 20 minutes thanks to the UPS. If the high-speed Internet fails/someone cuts the coax, voice verification fails immediately. Either way, the alarm will still be reported via GSM.

FWIW, at least on Honeywell systems, the duress code will NOT put you online with the central station. The duress code causes a 100% authentic disarm to appease the guy holding a gun on you whilst reporting duress to the central station, and a green LED on the speakerphone won't make him happy.

I've heard of local alarm installers using a Comcast phone line as their sole communication means, which, um, is more reliable than Vonage.

I installed and maintain my entire system, which is apparently quite uncommon, even amongst geeks and DIYers.

Let me be the first to say: (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122135)

Kill it with fiber!

I still use a landline...ish (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122139)

I recently went with a BYOD VOIP provider and have two cordless phones at home.

I have to say that,a side from the occasional QOS hiccup(maybe once ever 5 calls it has a delay), the quality of the call puts my cell phone to shame.

I don't mind using my mobile for quick chats or when I'm obviously not home, but when I really want to talk and listen to a person, I reach for the "obsolete" phone next to my desk. That and the cellphones get way too hot after 30 minutes of talking.

Then again, is the phone even really a landline? Only thing that it and the traditional landline have is that there is a RJ-11 at somepoint.

Can't get dsl without it (3, Insightful)

ewolfr (209134) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122165)

I can't get dsl where I am without subbing to a landline as well. A cable modem isn't really an option either since we have Directv and wouldn't qualify for any bundling deals from the cable company. If I could do dry line dsl I would in an instant, but I get to pay an extra $13/mo for my internet access instead.

Criminals need landlines! (2, Informative)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122181)

Most home-detention ankle-bracelet style monitoring equipment in our area requires a land-line to plug into. In order to be eligible for home-detention, you must have a land-line without "features" such as call-waiting / 3-way calling, etc.

Obviously eventually this will change.

Re:Criminals need landlines! (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122381)

So what are you "in for"? Pirating MP3s? Did you have to inform your neighbors that you are an IP predator?

Re:Criminals need landlines! (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122585)

I'm not telling.

BTW, does anybody wanna buy 130 Million credit card numbers? I'm letting them go cheap.

The phone company's fault. (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122233)

I would still have a landline if the phone company would sell me DSL without me giving them my social security number.

Re:The phone company's fault. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29122313)


Landlines & disasters (5, Interesting)

bloosh (649755) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122309)

In the area of New Orleans where I live (and didn't flood), the only way for people to communicate with the outside world was with land lines and old phones which are powered completely off the line (no wall warts).

Much of the cellular system didn't work. The remaining working systems were nearly impossible to use.

I hate using cell phones for more than a few minutes and always use a land line for long conversations. I also need to keep the land line for our alarm systems.

I was amazed to discover that my collection of 40s - 70s rotary dial phones dial perfectly on the Cox Digital phone system.

It didn't have to be so bad. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122315)

I know not all companies did this, but in general: if the telcos had not taken all that Government (that is, your) money, that was intended for installing fiber, and used it for other things, they would not be hurting quite so badly today.

Maybe the "phone" company should rethink (1)

muppetman462 (867367) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122337)

Maybe the phone company should rethink the business model and go with DSL. Hell, they have phone lines just about everywhere. Instead of going with "telephone" with the luxury of internet, they should sell DSL with the option of VOIP

Re:Maybe the "phone" company should rethink (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122575)

Wouldn't really make a difference to their business model. They are offering voice communications over dedicated copper/fiber wires. The cost of maintaining their infrastructure is starting to outweigh their profits.

DSL is only available within a given distance of a switching station, and even here in Maine it's getting rare to find an area where DSL is not available within range of the switching station. Outside the range of the switching station, it's the laws of physics and not some backward policy of the telco that is preventing DSL.

VoIP is how many telephone companies ARE carrying their telephone conversations once it comes out of the local switching station. Moving VoIP to the consumers's house requires expensive equipment at the customer location, and the availability of something like DSL to carry the Voice over the IP. See above for the issue.

Unfortunately, what we'll probably end up with is telcos starting to abandon their copper lines that aren't yielding any profit any more (meaning any area where VoIP *is* available because the Internet gets out there, and enough customers have switched - which is also your densest distribution of customers meaning less copper per customer to maintain), and ending up with only the longest and least profitable copper runs where Internet is not readily available. If they lose all their urban cash cows, they'll start having to get more money from their more expensive to maintain rural customers who have fewer options.

Savvy ruralites will start getting cell repeaters ($300 on Amazon nowadays, and they work pretty darned well), and going all-cell once landlines reach the point where they are more expensive than a cell (maintaining 100 miles of copper for 500 customers means you have to charge a LOT of money per customer). Non-savvy customers will either have to pony up, get some kind of help, or go back to the 1800s and disconnect their phones entirely.

867 5309 (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122343)

Enough people only know my land line number that I certainly won't get rid of it, or at least the number.

Since AT&T is bailing out on Callvantage, my current "land line" provider, I'll probably go with T-Mobile's $10/month box I can plug my home handsets into and have them port my number to that. And it's less than half the price of Callvantage or Vonage -- FTW.

Frankly, I don't want people calling my cell phone. I'd rather have them call the land line. Sure, I can just as easily not answer my cell phone and let it roll over to VM, but half the time I walk out of the house without my CP anyway, so my land line really is the best way to reach me usually.

Re:867 5309 (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122527)

You should realize that you could tie a string to your cell phone, and nail the other end of the string to the wall. You would then have all the advantages of a land line.

the article's broadband suggestions are good (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122375)

Beyond the discussion of landlines, my favorite part of the article was actually at the end:

With broadband networks, the role of the state has less to do with limiting handouts than increasing choice. Fibre-optic networks can be run like any other public infrastructure: government, municipalities or utilities lay the cables and let private firms compete to offer services, just as public roadways are used by private logistics firms. In Stockholm, a pioneer of this system, it takes 30 minutes to change your broadband provider. Australiaâ(TM)s new $30 billion all-fibre network will use a similar model.

No surprise (0)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122417)

A cell phone is usually much cheaper, gives you more options, less downtime, better service support, you can take it anywhere.

You don't have to take time off your job to babysit the maintenance guy when you have problems, if they even bother to show up. You don't have to expect your phone to quit working every time it rains.

It's more suprising the number of people who still have landlines. Probably mostly for DSL.

Worst mistake I ever made was getting rid of mine (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 5 years ago | (#29122667)

We replaced it with Vonage for my business (low cost toll-free number was a big factor). And we got a family plan from AT&T for personal calls. My elderly Mom was quite fragile in health, and I stupidly thought that a cell phone would give constant, reliable access. She died very early on a Sunday morning in the nursing home where she had lived for only a couple of weeks. There was a technical problem with Vonage (nothing new--they perpetually mix up the fax and phone lines, and the fax does not ring). So Vonage didn't work. And AT&T had "intermittent outages" during that time frame. I missed telling my Mom goodbye and only knew she was gone at 8:30 a.m. when I got up to check my voice mail. I was 2 1/2 hours too late. In a supreme irony, both our sons and most family members have AT&T, and their phones weren't working, either. I couldn't even call them from the desk at the nursing home when I finally got there. We got a couple of "we're profoundly sorry" communications from the two companies, but somehow it wasn't enough. Odds are a landline would have been just fine. If I had small children or elderly folk in my home, I'd hang on to that landline for dear life. And if anyone here ever becomes ill, I'm having one re-installed.

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