I mentioned that our family has been living with only a cell-phone for about half a year now. Here are some of the concerns that we had, and how we got over them.
Our Current Setup
We have two individual Sprint SERO plans that give us each 500 anytime minutes, unlimited nights & weekends starting at 7pm, and unlimited mobile-to-mobile. All for $30/ month each + taxes. No overages at all. I just checked, and the plan looks still to be available using the email@example.com e-mail address.
How much do you really need another line?
When we lost our VoIP service with SunRocket, we just tried to live without it, and realized it was fine. I even bought a MagicJack VoIP gadget for $40 to try it out, but stopped using it after only a week or so. We thought we might go over our 500 anytime minutes per month, but since my wife and I mostly call each other a lot, the free mobile-to-mobile works great.
Voice Quality and Comfort
I’m surprised by how many people’s cell phones don’t work in their own house. That would drive me crazy! I used to think cell phone calls were just too fuzzy to use all the time, but either I have gotten used to it or the quality is just better now. As for comfort and avoiding too much excess radiation from the phone, a wired headset is key. I got a wireless Bluetooth headset as a gift, but I always forgot to charge it and it kept falling off my ear.
Do you need a landline for DSL internet service?
This is a common concern because DSL is often cheaper than Cable internet, though sometimes a bit slower. First, I would check if you can get a naked DSL line that doesn’t require a dial tone – AT&T (formerly SBC or BellSouth) and Verizon are the big ones that I believe offer these now.
Second, you can ask to downgrade your service to the lowest possible level. Instead of having unlimited local calls like most people are used to ($28 here including taxes), there is usually a bare-bones tier where everything is per-minute. Here I found a $8 monthly rate with 100 free minutes but each additional minute was ~50 cents. With taxes it was $15. Now just compare the price of DSL + basic line vs. Cable. If the DSL is still cheaper, just get that and never use your phone line.
911 and emergencies?
As I see it, what you are missing with 911 from a landline is the automatic location feature, and the ability to function without power (assuming you have a corded phone). E911 is still growing, but just have to remember that one of the first things you should tell the operator is where you are located. Also, most cell phone towers have power backup systems.
I make very few international calls, but most of my friends who do just use Skype. I suppose you could also use a calling card with a cell phone.
Instead of faxing, I’ve gotten really good at using my all-in-one printer as a scanner and making documents into Adobe PDFs. Then I just send it off through e-mail. If I do need to send a fax, there is Fax1.com which is pay-as-you-go at $0.12 a page with no monthly fees. For receiving a fax, there are several sites that let you have free incoming faxes like eFax Free. If you fax a lot or want a local or toll-free fax number, there are several online fax services that start at about $10 a month like RapidFax, which is still cheaper than a landline.
Home Security Systems
Many home security systems rely on a landline to send an alarm signal. But is this a good thing? If a burglar can simply cut your line to disable your entire system. See this article news reports and comments below for more details. In the end, paying for a wireless backup may be the best solution.
Now, I don’t think everyone should go out and drop their phone service, I just wanted to provide some food for thought.
By Jonathan Ping | Frugal Living | 12/4/07, 12:16pm