The Enduring Importance of Residential Landline Phone Service


Many U.S. households have ditched their landline phone service in hopes of saving a little money and avoiding those annoying telemarketers.  Many younger people choose not to get landline phone service in the first place.

But even if you’ve dropped your cable TV subscription, you probably still need your landline Internet access connection that provides wi-fi, and phone service is usually a very inexpensive add-on to that.  If you use caller ID and NoMoRobo, you can pretty well banish those unwanted marketing calls to the deep background. You can also simply unplug your landline phone when you absolutely don’t want to be disturbed.  Meanwhile, on the bright side, there are several very good solid reasons to hang onto your landline service or sign up for it.  Here are six of them:

  1. It provides critical backup for when the power unexpectedly goes out at your home and your mobile phone is not charged or runs out. Your landline analog phone service will still work during a power outage for both outgoing and inbound calls if you have at least one basic handset that doesn’t require electricity.  If you have VoIP service, that goes down with a power outage because it requires digital internet access, but analog landline voice is separate and unaffected.
  2. It provides great redundancy when you need a second line for a concurrent call. Suppose you’re on a conference call for work, and briefly need to make or receive another important unrelated call. Whether you joined the conference call on your landline or your mobile phone, you can mute yourself on one line and take or make a call on the other. Further, if your young child wants to call or receive calls from friends or Grandma without borrowing and tying up your smartphone, a landline phone facilitates that.  It also presents a bonus opportunity to teach basic phone manners to youngsters before they’re ready for their own smartphone.
  3. It provides welcome peace of mind about situations in which someone at your home needs to call 911 and have the dispatcher already know the precise location of the caller. Think about a guest or visitor when there’s been an accident or fire, or a frantic babysitter who doesn’t know your street address by heart. Mobile phone GPS information is never as accurate or as instantly available to 911 operators as the street address associated with your landline phone number.
  4. Most residential security and fire alarm services require a landline connection, even when they are supplemented by cell signal capability.
  5. Fax machines also require a landline, and you can use the same line for faxing that you normally use for voice calls. By temporarily unplugging the phone from the wall jack and plugging in the fax machine instead, you’re good to go. Just remember that anyone trying to call your landline while your fax machine is online will get an annoying screeching sound instead of ringing or a busy signal.  That’s why some folks who run a small business from home get two separate landlines with different numbers.
  6. It can be really nice to have a home phone number to list or give out to people or organizations that you might want to hear from sometime, but don’t want bothering you at just any time by calling or texting your mobile phone.

Most smart home services such as temperature control and connected appliances rely on home wi-fi made possible by landline Internet access service. Real time health monitoring services also require landline Internet for quality of service reasons.  So once you have that landline Internet connectivity for computer use, wi-fi, a digital assistant, smart home applications and/or health IT, it’s usually easy and cheap to include voice service from the same vendor.

Landline phone service is available from both phone and cable wired Internet companies, but only two or three providers at most serve any given location.  Depending on where you live or are moving to, the landline phone company might be CenturyLink, Frontier, Verizon, AT&T or a smaller independent phone company.  Earthlink, Windstream and others provide competitive alternatives in some places.  Spectrum, Cox, and Comcast are the largest cable industry providers of landline phone service.  Again, your geographic location will determine which company can serve you.

If you live in a remote rural area where cell coverage is spotty and calls get dropped frequently, that alone provides one of the very best reasons for keeping or starting landline phone service.  Rural locations are also least likely to be served by competing providers, or to have existing network built out to your residential premises, so some advance planning is recommended for rural landline service.

Overall, most people who keep their landline phone service or order new service with their own home phone number are very glad they did.  After all, there’s so little downside, and plenty of diverse advantages that a reliable wired voice line brings.


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