A landline phone is also known as a main line and fixed-line. It is a phone that uses a telephone line made of wire or fiber optic cable for transmission. In contrast, a mobile cellular line uses radio waves for transmission.
Landline Phone Service Evolving into Wireless Service
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, telephones evolved from the two-piece reed device Bell invented, to rotary dial phones, to push-button phones. In the late 1980s, we saw the invention of cordless phones. In the early 1990s, the first cellular phones were marketed, along with the first mobile smart phone in 1992 called “Simon” developed by IBM. Both the original cellular phones and the mobile smart phones were bulky and had thick antennas. The Simon phone had a touch-screen and built-in calculator, calendar, address book, games, and email. Since then, we have seen an influx in mobile phones and landline phones have started to fade from existence.
In 2003, the CIA World Factbook reported that approximately 1.263 billion homes had main telephone lines worldwide. In 2008, there were 1.27 billion landline phone service subscribers. More than 26.6% of American families deserted their landline phone service and now rely exclusively on wireless service. With those statistics, can we assume that landline phones service has starting to become extinct?
The Department of Human Services at the National Center for Health Statistics published a study in 2010, stating that 15.9% of American households received all or almost all calls on wireless phones, despite having a landline telephone in the home. The same study reported that landline-only homes dropped from 34.4% in the first half of 2005 to 12.9% in the first half of 2010.
In addition to wireless telephone service taking over landline phone service, many people have started using online-based VoIP (Voice-Over Internet Protocol) phones and software, such as Skype and GTalk. VoIP phones are similar to a wireless phone in that the phone is plugged into the computer via USB port. Skype has video capabilities and group call conferencing features. Additionally, other services such as Yahoo and AOL offer video chat features. Since the influx in online voice and video chats and VoIP phones, more people have canceled their landline phone service since it is rarely used. Others keep their landline phone service so that they can take advantage of package deals offered by mobile phone and home phone providers. These packages usually bundle land line phone service, mobile phone service, Internet, and digital TV service.
However, VoIP phones have increased in popularity, they are not capable of dialing emergency service, and emergency service providers have difficulty locating where wireless calls originate, landline phone service is still an option for many people, just for that reason, if nothing else.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Canceling Landline Phone Service
Two main factors people should consider when determining whether or not to ditch their landline phone service are security and interference. Hackers can gain much easier access to personal data and conversations through wireless phones and VoIP phones than they do on a traditional landline phone. Landline phones have less interference than VoIP and wireless phones. With wireless phones, there are dropouts and dead zones, and the VoIP still relies on a stable Wifi connection.
VoIP phones are considerably cheaper than landline service. Most VoIP phone plans cost under $10 a month, with a variety of features, including long-distance plans, voicemail, caller ID, and call-forwarding. The features are available anywhere you go with your laptop where there is Wifi connectivity.
Landline Phone Service & Legislation
According to the Springfield News-Sun in Ohio, a bill currently being moved through the General Assembly would relieve phone companies from their responsibility to provide basic phone service for all residents when unprofitable. This bill would allow phone companies to discontinue basic land landline service beginning in 2013 if the area is deemed “competitive” by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The bill’s sponsor said that the bill would free phone companies from outdated regulation, allowing them to spend their time and money on new high-speed connections.
The Office of the Ohio Consumer’s Council has lobbied against the bill because they feel Ohio isn’t ready to ditch landlines. Deregulating the phone companies would put people in greatest need of emergency connections at risk. The bill passed the Senate Public Utilities Committee, and passed the Senate 30-3. It is currently awaiting a hearing in the House.
Other states have begun the process of trying to pass legislation for deregulating phone companies. In 2006, Indiana fully deregulated phone companies in a bill that was passed in only 6 weeks. In Kentucky, after the bill was introduced, one of its state senators killed it due to public criticism and concerns from elderly and rural citizens.
10 Reasons People Dislike Their Landline Phone Service
- Long Distance Plans: People complain that long distance is just too expensive, when charging an additional cost to the total phone bill every month.
- Expense: The expense of landline phones in comparison to mobile phone services and VoIP phone services is slightly higher. The argument is that if a mobile phone can do more than a landline, why keep the landline and incur the additional expense?
- Customer Service: Landline phone subscribers usually get an automated message when calling the customer service center for help, and then get put on hold 10 minutes or more. In today’s fast-paced world, that’s just too long and too much of a hassle for some people.
- Contract Bundling: Landline phone companies are pushing people to not only buy the basic landline phone services, but to purchase additional services as a contract bundle, such as Internet service and digital TV packages.
- Limited Mobility: Basic portable phones just don’t go that far – at most, within 2,000 feet of the headset base.
- Fax Machines: Either accidentally calling a fax machine or being called BY one is annoying.
- Answering Machines: Sometimes, the answering machine units seem to distort the messages, causing them to become unintelligible.
- Telemarketers: Calling at every hour of the day trying to sell you something can get extremely irritating. At least with cell phones, there’s legislation that prohibits telemarketers calling them.
- Wrong Numbers: Running across the house to answer the phone only to find out it’s a wrong number is irritating, too.
- Interruptions: Calls come in at the most inconvenient times, and sometimes when you just can’t get to the phone.
Top 10 Landline Phone Service Providers
- Time Warner Cable
- Charter Communications
- Cincinnati Bell
Major Cities’ Average Monthly Landline Phone Services Costs
Here is a list of major cities’ average monthly landline phone service costs, as of 2010:
- Atlanta: $33.70
- Baltimore: $37.64
- Boston $39.46
- Charlotte: $34.38
- Chicago: $32.06
- Dallas: $33.48
- Denver: $33.00
- Houston: $31.60
- Indianapolis: $29.52
- Las Vegas: $32.22
- Los Angeles: $33.19
- Minneapolis: $29.22
- New York: $39.46
- Orlando: $29.78
- Philadelphia: $33.05
- Phoenix: $32.11
- Portland: $26.74
- San Diego: $32.46
- San Francisco: $29.84
- Seattle: $27.01
- Washington, DC: $37.64