Reader Poll: Do You Still Have a Landline Telephone?

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A recent government study found that over 25% of Americans now rely solely on a cellular phone for calls. In some states, over a third of people were wireless-only. This is a growing trend, and I wonder if you readers are any different?

What Is Your Phone Situation?

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Factors that increased the likelihood of being wireless-only were having a lower-income, being younger, and renting. It’s suggested that being poor means you’re more likely to cut landlines as an extra expense, while being young means you may simply never have had a landline. Finally, both prepaid basic plans and packaged plans offering unlimited minutes have become cheaper and widely available.

One major factor stated for keeping a landline is for reliable emergency usage. Other possible reasons that come to mind are that you make a lot of calls, better clarity, or you wish to minimize radiation exposure. I solve those problems with my significantly cheaper VoIP phone service.

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  1. I use the Google chat phone on occasion, but 99.99% of the time it’s cell phone.

    No point in ever paying for a landline ever again. The internet is much cheaper and cell phones are much more functional.

  2. I think it’s funny that many people who are paying for a landline, are in fact paying some high rates for VOIP from their cable/internet companies.

  3. I first read about Ooma on this blog. Picked mine up about a year ago and I still love it. While I can understand the “cell phone only” thing… I don’t like giveing my personal cell number to businesses. I’m too concerned that I’m going to start getting solitations to my cell phone. Plus the wife is much more comfortable having a house phone. Finally, I occasionally would do multi-hour conference calls from home (up to 6 hours) and I don’t think my smartphone’s battery can handle that.

    At the risk of being mistaken for spam: Ooma is currently running a “Refer a friend” promotion and I have two codes I can give away and I would hate to see them go to waste as they are only good to the end of the month. In light of this blog’s comment policy I won’t post links here, but you can visit my blog (linked above) to send me an email and I can supply them.

  4. ParatrooperJJ says

    The problem that I see with VOIP is that if the cable goes down, you loose phone service.

  5. Re: ParatrooperJJ

    True…. and it has happened to me from time-to-time. But traditional phone service can go down to. Based on track records, cable is worse, but today we have cell phones that can serve as a backup. Also, most VOIP providers offer voice mail service… so if connectivity to your premises is out… at least callers can still leave messages that you can get when it comes back up (unlike traditional answering machines).

  6. I’m using an Obi 110 to connect to my google voice account. There is very poor cell coverage in my area, so we are voip only. My cost per month for phone is $0.

  7. I still have a landline. The reasoning is quite simple. It’s fairly cheap ($20/month – including taxes) and I have had that number for 10+ years. While I do have a cell phone, I have a family and children and it’s much easier to have a single number for all contact forms, etc. It also means I don’t have to worry about taking calls for my wife and having to remember to give her messages or visa versa.

  8. @Doug, It’s not clear from your comment if you are using a POTS or VOIP service, but FWIW most VOIP providers can port your existing number to their service. In the case of Ooma, it’s a one-time $40 charge. I believe when I first went from my local telco to Comcast VOIP it was free for them.

  9. I’m one of those Luddites who is still landline only. I’m not constantly out and about, needing to schedule meetups, check in, and things like that. I’m almost always either at home or at work. I also call internationally on a regular basis. Given all that, a landline is the cheapest option for me, and I have a hard time justifying the cost of a cell phone.

  10. Donald Bindner says

    I keep my POTS for reliable 911 service. Basically, it’s a kind of insurance.

  11. I still have a landline. Mainly because cell phone reception is horrendous in my house, and I got burned really bad by one of the IP solution provides (Vonage).

    Vonage essentially ignores cancellations and continues billing you until you threaten lawsuits etc. Plus quality sucked.

    I dont like Skype – do much spam, and poor video call quality. Currently use oovoo for video calls.

  12. I have landline, Vonage and cell.

    I keep the landline with absolute basic service. This makes it “free” because my DSL is discounted by more than the phone bill. It also serves for my alarm monitoring – which would be $10 per month more on a non-landline solution.

    I have had Vonage since 2004, when I initially ported my old landline number to it. Since then, I have moved around the world for work, always moving it into my new homes and never changing my local US number. Even though I am back in the US now, I make many overseas calls which are all included for approx. $350 per year.

    I give everyone my Vonage number, but I also have it forwarded to my landline and cell. Hence all three phones ring any time anyone calls. If I change cell number or move and change landline number, I don’t need to inform anyone.

    I now have Skype on my iPhone as well, but I have never really been satisfied with Skype call quality on computers or phones, and will probably not use it much.

  13. i am planning to get rid of my phone line with comcast but confused as to if i should chose ooma or nettalk. nettalk is basically something like magicjack but it does not require a computer and can be plugged in directly with a ethernet. Does anybody here have any experience with it?

  14. WheresMyOption says

    I have all 3…. a landline, a cellphone and ooma.

  15. Wow, so far only 1% of poll respondents have no cell phone at all.

  16. I used to be cell phone only from 2004-2010, but after having a baby I decided that I wanted a traditional landline in case of emergencies since I heard that VOIP providers had problems routing 911 calls. I got a regular landline 1 week before baby was due. 1 week after baby was born, I made my first and only call to 911, ended up being transported by ambulance and being hospitalized for several days. Was the situation so dire, that I couldn’t have called on my cell phone and gotten the appropriate emergency response? Probably not, if I had the correct number programmed into my phone. But the peace of mind is worth it to me!

  17. twocents says

    Jonathan, the poll and study maybe misleading. With the greater adoption of VOIP even cable providers are offering voice service. I view landlines as just voice with a telco (Ma Bell, etc.). In a personal budget standpoint, I would suggest adding cable internet and DSL to the mix to get a better view of behavior and overall budget.

    I’m fortunate to live in SF Bay Area where local internet competition still exist. I had basic cable and internet along with my cell phone but dropped the cable company in December and went with a local ISP providing faster DSL with voice. I might be the very few who don’t have a TV so cable is not important. My overall savings after the switch is around $15/mo with the added benefit of a traditional telephone service, free long distance, caller id, and voice mail.

  18. Call me old school, but I would much rather have a long conversation over a traditonal phone(land line or voip) simply due to ergonomics and clarity. Cell phones are great for a number of reason, but the call quality and comfort in using them does not compare to a regular ‘brick’ phone.

  19. Alexandria says

    I suppose everyone has their preferences. Interesting poll.

    I keep my land line for emergency service.

    The second factor for me is I don’t like to be reachable and don’t want EVERY single call coming through my cell phone. So, yeah, we pretty much use land line for incoming calls. Filters all the sales calls, politicians, etc., while keeping our cell phones much more private, and not running up minutes with unwated calls.

    All that said, our landline options are very inexpensive. Maybe $8/month. I have friends in other counties who do not have inexpensive options like that. We have multiple options in that price range. If it cost much more, we’d probably drop it.

    Skype and cells are used for all long distance calls. I’d rather talk on the land lines too, but mostly use the other technology for long distance. Cheaper.

  20. Alexandria says

    P.S. I think technically our landline is now VOIP. Surewest. They did give us a battery backup for power outages, etc.

  21. I couldn’t vote for any option in this poll. I have VOIP only. No cell phone.

  22. As far as businesses soliciting you on your cell phone, there are so many ways to block them now, let them try, they will never get through, the phone won’t even ring.

  23. I use Skype only. No cell phone and no landline. I find the audio quality with my headset to be much better than with a conventionally shaped phone, plus it is more comfortable.

  24. I’m using an OBI 110 with Google Voice as well. Just set it up somewhere for someone else as well who wanted to make sure they had 911 service which Google Voice does not offer. With that device you can program in 2 VOIP providers and using this guide ( set it up so they are paying $1.50/month for phone service.

  25. I still have the landline because I use DSL. If you do not have a land line, this is an extra fee to access DSL services. So, considering that keeping the landline would only cost about $10 more a month and the added flexibility, I decided to keep it.

  26. Mushroom Mike says

    In 2008 I moved to Mississippi. Up until then I had no cell phone. My 14 year old son begged me for a cell phone which I was reluctant to get. I couldnt understand why talking on a phone would be a big deal to a teenager. But eventually I relented and he got a cell phone.

    With hindsight I am very relieved I did this. To me a cell phone is still just a phone, which you use when you want to dial and speak with someone. I am “text challenged”, I dont do text. BUT to my son and his generation, a cell phone is not what I view it as. He almost never uses it to speak to someone. And he needs it as a social tool. Its more important than his PC. And cell phones now are becoming little PC’s.

    I just think that cell phone companies overcharge, and I dont like their business model. I guess they arent as bad as cable companies though. I would love to out-source my services to non American companies. Better competition, and it would be nice to return the favor.

    Jonathon I thought you had Ooma. I am still interested in going down the Ooma road.

  27. I switched to Ooma about 10 mos. ago. I do miss the clarity of a true landline, and I have had problems when my AT&T internet service is patchy, but I sure don’t miss the bill! I use VirginMobile for my cell, and it is only $5/mo. So all together I pay less than $9/mo. for all my phone service. (Husband pays another $6/mo. on Skype to call his family in Europe.)

  28. We have a VOIP line, and for the most part it is great. However, we often have trouble sending faxes.
    We are in the process of transferring a business phone number through several steps: from land line to cell phone (which happened quickly), and now waiting to transfer to Google Talk. Seems it is taking awhile for either the cell phone carrier to update the new status of this number or for Google Talk to recognize that the number is now cell instead of land line. Until then, we are waiting. Has anyone done this and if so, how long has it taken?

  29. @ParatrooperJJ – My VOIP service allows for forwarding to another phone number in case of “network down” situations so it isn’t all or nothing if you have another phone.

    Cell phone coverage is poor where I live so I have VOIP. Would still have it in any case as for the reasons already mentioned, long conference calls, etc.

  30. that’s odd how the study found more low-income people tend to not have a landline. I would think they’d be eligible for state Lifeline service with their phone company (for low-income folks to get a cheap landline, we pay around $4 per month for 60 calls).
    It’s the same call quality as with a full-price landline, and you don’t need any of those switch boxes or VOIP things. Ask your phone company. You need to be pretty low-income though, in CA it’s something like $28K per person.

  31. pharmboy says

    Like a comment above, I simply enjoy talking on a old-fashion phone and I also have a bad habit of not charging my cell phone often enough. I’m considering dropping it just because of all the stupid telemarketers, collection calls for previous phone number owners, and all the damn political calls we receive. I might vote Democrat just cuz the Tea Party/NRA/RNC etc keep calling me asking for more money.

  32. We cut the POTS long ago. Our house has phone jacks all over and our 2 year old asked about them. We laughed and told him they were from days long gone… like CDs. We ditched the POTS years ago because we realized we’d turned off all the ringers and disconnected the answering machine for years. Really we were paying the phone company so we could make 3-4 calls a month to local places. Yeah, that was pissing away money.

    We get by fine with 3 people sharing (we added my mother-in-law) a 700 minute VZW plan. Most of my calling is done on weekends or with other VZW people. Even then I’d say 90% of my calls go to my wife.

    Oh and to throw sand on the renters/young people only have cell phones, we own 4 homes, we’re in our 30s, we have two upper level management incomes. We’ll never go back to having a home phone… it served no purpose.

  33. We used to be cell phone only, but went back to old times and had a landline only (no internet, either!). Now, however, we use an ATT wireless MiFi thing for internet, and have magicJack.

    Our main focus was being cheap 🙂 But a nice side effect is that life is less stressful without the cell phones. We’re actually talking to each other when we’re together, and we’re not constantly checking to see if we missed any texts or messages. It’s great!

    btw brkf, I think “30s” counts as young 🙂

  34. If i could ditch the cell phone too, I would. Really, if work didn’t pay most of our cell phone bill we’d be quite content to just get the minutes plans from virgin or the $2 a day plan and we could last months and months on a few hundred minutes. If I really, really felt the need to call someone, there’s Google Voice/Gmail calling.

  35. Keep the landline for the alarm monitoring and in case of emergencies. A few years ago after a hurricane, power was out for a couple of weeks. Internet was off. Cell towers were overloaded for voice. The only methods of outside communication was the landline and texting. And a simple text conversation could take up to an hour.

  36. I have both a cellphone and a landline, and the only reason I keep a landline is for emergencies. Phone companies supply sufficient power through the landline to make calls with a simple phone (i.e., a phone that doesn’t require batteries or an outlet to work). If I lose power I can still make calls, even if the power outage is regional and not just local. Cellphone towers generally run on a limited-time battery backup only.

    Also, if there’s a local or national emergency, landlines are less susceptible to being swamped by people making calls. Here in NYC during 9/11 cellphones were useless – no signal – simply because the cellphone towers were utterly overwhelmed.

  37. I kept my landline for a while, but eventually ditched it when I realized I was only ever using my cell phone. Now I also have a Sipgate VOIP line because it’s free for incoming calls and I can call my friend overseas for free with it but I can’t see any reason to ever have a landline again. Incidentally, even a landline (or cell phone) with no service can still dial 911. As long as the wiring is physically hooked up, it’s required by law that they give you a dial tone and 911 access.

  38. I will admit that cell phones can be very convenient, but a lot of people don’t even realize the radiation wireless phones (land-line or mobile) give off. This radiation can contribute to tumors, cancer, and many other problems.
    I couldn’t imagine using a cell phone as my only way of communication. What if you lose your cell phone? Anything could happen. At least you have a landline phone in which has better sound quality and (in many ways) is much more convenient than a cell phone. I just keep a cell phone in my car so in case I get in an accident or something, I can call 911 or someone for help.
    Other than that, I’m sticking to my house phone. I’m not that trendy. Sorry.

  39. There are always studies and counter studies so we’ll see what the final results are…. but the largest study to date on the subject as phone no link between wireless phones and cancer.

  40. Well this is one of the many articles begs to differ:

    Oh, and not to mention the many accidents that occur to senseless morons that talk (and TEXT) on their cell phone while driving. It seems like every since cell phones have become popular, more and more car accidents are occurring because people are being distracted by cell phones.

  41. We’ve clearly ventured off the topic of this thread. Your article is interesting, but I’ll point out that it was published in 2007. The article I cited was published just a few weeks ago based on a study done in 2010. My understanding is that this study is the the largest and most current research on the cell phones and cancer.

    It’s clearly an area of active research and I expect we don’t know all the answers yet. Regardless, I feel safe using my phone a reasonable amount. I still have a home phone (using Ooma) mostly because I like having a house phone which independent of my personal cell phone.

  42. Peter Sackmann says

    As an alarm company owner I find from time to time that some clients gave up their land lines not realizing that this entailed loosing their central station connection as well.

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