November 17, 2012

Cutting off the land line.

I finally did it, ended non-mobile phone service. I'd been thinking about doing it for quite a while, because we make all our calls and talk to everyone we care about from our cell phones. The land line mostly only brought in robocalls, but in the last couple weeks it was getting calls from people — different people — who believed that we had called them. We were getting dozens of messages from people saying things like "Stop calling me unless you're going to leave your name." We picked up a couple of these calls and they seemed to be from genuinely confused people who seemed to have pushed "call back" buttons after they received a call. It seemed like when you get email with a friend's name on it, but it's been hacked on to some spam email. Ever heard of that with a phone line? Well, it's not my problem anymore, it's AT&T's, and it was the incentive for me to cut them off after all these years. Cut them off on the land line, that is. They're still my mobile phone company, my cable TV company, and my internet company.

Land lines... Twinkies... all these building blocks of American life are evanescing.

50 comments:

edutcher said...

In the event of disaster (hurricane, blizzard, Democrats), that landline may come in handy.

The Blonde is loath to give up ours and the people on Staten Island have apparently found the same.

PS The Blonde gets more robocalls off her cell than the landline.

Erika said...

Did the same thing because no one ever called me on my landline other than telemarketers and other nuisances, and I was tired of paying $17 for the service and another $14 in taxes. Not that cell service is much better, but you have to have something.

Pastafarian said...

We're considering doing away with our landline too. The only reason we haven't already is the way a central phone for the whole house seems like a fundamental utility, and it seems like a source of unity.

With a landline, if my daughter receives a call, any one of us might answer. We'll know who it is, and we'll probably know how long she's on the phone with them. Otherwise we'd just all be off in our own rooms interacting with one another that much less.

The inevitable trend toward a separate phone for each family member seems like it will have a big impact on family dynamics and the culture as a whole. I'm not sure that it will be a net positive; I suspect not.

Leland said...

Agree with edutcher, the value of a landline is in a disaster. Still, I got rid of my landline many years ago. Just over a year ago, I went away from the digital landline. I still have the home phone number, but it is tied to a cellphone now. Why keep a home phone? Because I can give that number to businesses; the ones that tend to keep calling to sell more services I don't care to have.

pm317 said...

Welcome to the third world! Places like India didn't have extended landline infrastructure to begin with and now are burgeoning mobile phone market. Air is free there as here.

Paco Wové said...

We did this a couple of years ago, more or less coincident with our offspring going off to college. Hasn't changed anything for us that I can tell (other than the reduced phone bill).

foolmeonce said...

evanescing. cheers to that. bubbles are mine, the are. all mine.

bagoh20 said...

I did it about 10 years ago as soon as my cell plan included "free" long distance.

Tim said...

"Land lines... Twinkies... all these building blocks of American life are evanescing."

Yes, all while deficits and debt mushroom.

And only the looters will tell you there is no correlation between the two.

mccullough said...

We still need ours for the alarm system, though I'd love to get rid of it. Can you have a home alarm system without a land line in Madison?

chickelit said...

Just don't sell your copper, yet.

Strelnikov said...

Cut the cord last year and never looked back.

LarsPorsena said...

If you've got an Obamaphone why does anybody need a landline?

Russ said...

You CAN have an alarm without a land line, though most places will charge you for the cellular service it requires to monitor it (which ends up being about the same).

There's some options for DIY that you use a pre-paid sim card, but they seem to be more trouble than they're worth.

Ellen Guon said...

The "Why did you call me?" folks are probably getting VOIP calls from marketers or scammers who are spoofing your landline number. A good reason to get rid of that number.

FYI, if you are in a disaster situation and are having problems getting mobile calls through, please keep in mind that texting and Twitter use significantly fewer packets and are more likely to get through an overloaded mobile telephony system.

Baron Zemo said...

You are making a mistake.

During the hurricane when the power went out the landline was the only way to get to talk to people who were stranded.

I just have the cheapest possible plan and don't use it that much.

But cell phones are really unreliable. You can't get service. The tower goes down. You run out of battery.

You will never need the landline until you need the landline.

ebeeman said...

The "Why did you call me?" folks were probably being called by someone spoofing your phone number over VOIP. Most likely a scammer or robot caller. Yet another good reason to get rid of a landline.

FYI, in the event of a disaster and overloading of the phone system, you'll likely find that texts and Twitter will get through even when you can't make a mobile phone call, because they use less packet data. Just something to keep in mind as a way to stay in contact with friends and family in a bad situation.

Best,

--Ell

ebeeman said...

The "Why did you call me?" folks were probably being called by someone spoofing your phone number over VOIP. Most likely a scammer or robot caller. Yet another good reason to get rid of a landline.

FYI, in the event of a disaster and overloading of the phone system, you'll likely find that texts and Twitter will get through even when you can't make a mobile phone call, because they use less packet data. Just something to keep in mind as a way to stay in contact with friends and family in a bad situation.

Best,

--Ellen

ebeeman said...

Sincerest apologies for the multiple posts, I'm a first-time poster and didn't see that my message went up.

Another FYI for emergencies when you're relying on cellphones only... I highly recommend getting a car charger/inexpensive inverter, and also USB battery packs for emergency recharging. I like the Enercell USB battery, especially the 2400 milliamp version.

rhhardin said...

I have only landline, but the phone ringer is left off. Phones are for calling out.

And there's the DSL, which works pretty well, and they're legally obligated to fix the phone line pretty instantly when it goes out, and so will fix the DSL as a side effect.

Finally an unattended laptop uses an old-fashioned dialup connection to record Imus every morning.

Carol said...

The only reason I keep my land line is because it's all tied up with our Internet. The only other viable Internet was with the cable company, meaning we had to buy a bunch of channels we never watch just to get Internet. Then there's satellite internet and I hear that sucks.

Wish I could unbundle all that and just get Internet.

Darrell said...

Wish I could unbundle all that and just get Internet.

Cable companies like Comcast let you just take internet service. When they pitch the extras, just say "no!" If your company doesn't, just tell them that internet service is a universal human right. Congress said it, so it must be right.

chickelit said...

I envision a future scenario wherein an older neighborhood wishes to remove all it's unsightly telephone wires and poles but some elderly holdout insists on keeping the wires and poles intact.

Then some sort of EM pulse or satellite failure occurs and all the neighbors descend on poor Mrs. Kravitz.

Mary Beth said...

rhhardin said...

I have only landline, but the phone ringer is left off. Phones are for calling out.

And there's the DSL, which works pretty well, and they're legally obligated to fix the phone line pretty instantly when it goes out, and so will fix the DSL as a side effect.


That's my main reason. I need the internet for my work and since I have the services bundled I can be fairly sure I won't be without internet access for long.

Petunia said...

Another reason to keep a landline is if if you need to call 911 but can't say your location...like if you're having a stroke and can't speak or there's an intruder in your house and you are trying to get away...the police can quickly determine your address. Not always (or often) the case with a cell phone.

ndspinelli said...

I though only people over 80 had landlines. A few more years and you would have never given it up.

MathMom said...

My phone started doing that years ago. Got some really nasty calls from people who were tired of getting calls from my number. One day after several angry calls I started getting weird people driving by looking at us working in the yard like they intended to teach us a lesson. I assumed they had used reverse lookup to find out the address for our phone number. So I had my number blocked, and I unblock it when I call out. That fixed the problem, for $6.95 a month (grrrrr).

I like the landline though. Been through three hurricanes and countless power failures, and the only thing in the house that worked was my land line.

johnnymcguirk said...

U.S. Postal Service is another thing that has outlived its usefulness.

David said...

I can't lose my land line.

Darrell said...

This Summer, a neighborhood yute stole a car, lost control at over 100mph (according to witnesses) and slammed into a phone junction box at the end of my block--taking out all the phones connected to it.
It took four days to rewire it. When my neighbors had their service back, my phone and DSL was still out. Putting back every wire isn't stressed any more, I guess. Neither is checking to see of all the customers have service. Multiple phone calls (some of them to a call center in India) were required to get it fixed and I was out for 13 days total. I flagged down a phone company employee the very day I found out the neighbors had their phone back, but that wouldn't do. He needed a service ticket number and he couldn't report outages himself.

T J Sawyer said...

Agree on the 911 and disaster advantages to keeping the landline.

Here's another thing you haven't considered. At our place in Cairo we never got a landline in spite or friends urging us to. When the government shut down Internet and cell phone service during the revolution, landlines still worked.

Wished we had listened. Just sayin...


Carnifex said...

"Bout time you got with the program Althouse! The way you change technologies I'm surprised Meade doesn't have to take you around in a cabriolet! :-)

harrogate said...

"I envision a future scenario wherein an older neighborhood wishes to remove all it's unsightly telephone wires and poles but some elderly holdout insists on keeping the wires and poles intact.

Then some sort of EM pulse or satellite failure occurs and all the neighbors descend on poor Mrs. Kravitz."

Exactly. Actually I don't have a landline at the moment but I am always anxious about it. We're getting awfully cute and complacent with our reliance on digital technologies. Maybe too cute and complacent for our own good.

Today Mrs. Kravitz is a Luddite, but tomorrow she might be an example of sanity.

frommtaxes said...

This post really has me thinking about the pros and cons of this. What about all the people who use my land line? But what about all the nuisance calls? Something to think about.

frommtaxes said...

This post really has me thinking about the pros and cons of this. What about all the people who use my land line? But what about all the nuisance calls? Something to think about.

Christopher said...

I cut my copper landline years ago when I went to a VOIP sysem (Vonage) and cell for mobile. A year ago I decided to reacquire the landline for the disaster scenarios. Unfortunately, the person who took my order entered me as a new Verizon FIOS customer. They kept sending out FIOS install techs and I kept calling to tell them I just wanted a landline phone. They had even assigned me a phone number I could recite right now. After multiple phone calls, multiple apologies and multiple promises, I finally told them to cancel the order. It was Kafkaesque. I should try again, though I don't know how much more robust is is these days. Everything around here gets routed through fiber at some point, and after a power failure their backup batteries run out after a fairly short period of hours, I was told.

Donna B. said...

If I lived in a place prone to natural disasters, I'd probably rethink losing the landline. But I don't.

Internet is important to me and the one type of natural disaster this area is prone to (ice storm) is going to knock out land lines and cable since both are still above-ground in much of the area. Cell towers are generally OK.

So my cell phone keeps me connected in several ways -- voice, text, internet.

In 1990, we had two land lines, one for voice, one for modem. In 1998, a third for teenagers was added. By 2000, every family member had a cell phone, local cable finally added internet and we dropped all but one line. By 2005, the land line was nothing but an occasional nuisance that cost $30/month.

If I had a USB powered coffee pot, I'd be all set.

Conserve Liberty said...

The older daughter, who lives on the Upper West Side, just added a copper land line and plugged our old rotary dial phone in. Unlisted number which she has yet to reveal to anyone. Caller ID blocked. Anti-Comcast insurgency.

Pretty Cool, IIMSSM.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

We can't give up the land line for several reasons.

1. We are a business and one number we have used as business/home for over 25 years and is listed in our local directory. The other business number is listed in the local directory and is the number of the company that we purchased a few years ago. That company had been in business for 40 years.

2. None or very few of our customers use the internet and most rely on land lines also. We need to be LISTED in a local paper phone book. The internet listings are a pain in the ass because we get people calling us from all over the country, Canada and Mexico thinking that we are a large plumbing wholesale company. Gah....waste of their time and mine.

3. We have crap cell phone reception. Lots of dead zones. ATT wouldn't issue us a cell phone in our area because of the spotty coverage UNLESS we also signed a disclaimer that we were aware that we would hardly ever be able to make or receive calls.

4. I'm not the least bit interested in texting, sending tweets, IMs, sending photos, accessing the internet or anything else on my cell phone. I only want to make a damned phone call once in a while.

I bought a pay as you go phone. $100 will last for one year and buys you 100 minutes. I've used 15 minutes in the last 6 months.

rcommal said...

DH wanted to dispense with the personal landline in the new house. I said we'll discuss it in a few years. My 7th-grader will be making new friends from families I don't know, and so I wanted a shared family line. I want to know who's calling for him and I don't really want to give out my personal cell number to new people and so forth until we're well settled in and have determined friends vs. acquaintances and so forth. I can certainly see getting rid of it eventually, though, no question.

caplight45 said...

We live in an area that gets an ice storms every couple of winters and plenty of violent thunderstorms in spring and summer. Lots of trees in our part of the county. I keep it for power outages because the phone lines are underground even though the electric lines are not.

ad hoc said...

For emergency use/power outages, I've kept the landline as well as stored an old telephone (doesn't need to be electrically powered) under the bed. Also, got an inverter so that we are moderately prepared. If I never worried about losing power, then I would consider dumping the landline because I never use it.

Revenant said...

I got rid of my land line five years ago... not much of a loss.

Balfegor said...

Land lines . . . I had a land line when I was renting. I got nothing but telemarketers on it. My solution was to pretend I didn't speak English when answering the phone. When I moved, I wanted to get a landline put in, but the phone company (Verizon I think) made it so difficult to activate that I just told them to forget it. I do not regret the decision.

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Belial said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belial said...

Do I have to be the first to point out that the cell phone emperor has no clothes? Cell phone sound quality is crap. It was crap when cell phones first came out, and it is still crap. Echoes, hollow sound, static, interference, breakup. Sure, it's great to have it to carry around in your pocket, but for that "sounds like she's in the room with me" quality - which I get on my landline whether it's to the pizzeria down the street or to my sister in Europe - cell phones are not going to make it in the foreseeable future, if at all.

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Stacey Beck said...

Thanks for all of your advice. Luckily we use bell - beacon hill centre for both our cell phone and land line phone, so hopefully they'll be glad we are only dropping one of the lines and not both. Great post, thanks for sharing.

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