Should I Drop Our Home Phone?
I am currently in the middle of this conundrum about whether to keep or cancel our home phone line. We are currently paying about $60 a month for this landline and with our cell phones we hardly seem to use it at all anymore. So the analysis and second-guessing is in full swing as I try to answer this question. What would you do….
JUST THE FACTS –
We currently have 4 cell phones on a single plan with Verizon. Those combined are running around $200/mo for unlimited text & talk. I get a discount because of where I work and you could be paying more (or less) – but that’s not the argument. Conversely, our AT&T bill came the other day and I looked it over a little more critically. We are paying $60 a month to have a landline phone that is:
- Listed in the public directory
- Has a number that not changed in 25 years
- Is rarely used by any of us (and mostly by telemarketers).
From a cost / charges basis the current plan we have is roughly broken down into mostly thirds:
- $20 for basic local access
- $20 for “features”
- $20 is comprised of taxes; fees; usage charges; etc…
For God’s sake, if I dropped all the features and add-on’s the bill would be equally split @ $20 for local calls and $20 in fees! WTH – 50% of every monthly bill are charges and fees that we have to pay in order to use the phone… a tax by any other name is still a tax! Aghhhh.
THE QUESTIONS -
Dropping my landline could easily save us $720 a year. But just doing that has some important consequences to consider. Here are a few questions currently battling in the arena of second-guessing:
Emergency Calls - One of the benefits of having a land line is that all the 911 emergency response systems can instantaneously identify your home’s location. No confusion and mistakes or triangulating cell towers…even if the caller (your child?) doesn’t know the house address. Or what about those situations where somebody is struggling with a heart attack or stroke and cannot speak….simply dialing 911 gets help on your way (usually).
Natural Disasters – A couple of years ago we have major flooding around here. I mean Noah’s Ark, biblical proportions flooding. Because we live out in the county our house was cut off from town by raging creeks. Our sons were literally trapped at their jobs and could not get home…nor could we get to them either. The panic mode during this time was that all the cell tower bandwidth was jammed by everyone trying to call and no cell calls could be made. Yikes – but the landline phones were all working. Also consider the possibility of ice storms knocking out power… again the landlines would still work (assuming you had a corded phone). But without power how do you charge your cell phone (or those cordless ones)?
Human Disasters – Not all disasters are natural in cause. Let’s not forget the widespread cell gridlock caused by the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Or how about the more common everyday problems like 1) losing your phone; 2) dropping and breaking your phone; 3) getting your phone stolen? Don’t tell me nobody in your family has dropped their phone in the toilet either…
Administrative Work – I believe that it would be nearly impossible for me to find and change EVERY single registration, subscription, membership, and application I’ve ever made that asked for my home phone number in order to change it over to my cell number. Then add to that mess all the relatives and friends who have your home number in their address books. All of those are now going to be wrong if we drop the home line. I can’t imagine the pain this will cause. What about the flip side of this as well – do I want telemarketers calling my cell number directly? And will that cause by plan minutes to skyrocket too? And is there a “Do not call” program that covers cell phones?
THE ALTERNATIVES -
Here are the alternatives I am considering:
VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP takes the audio from your phone and digitizes them for transmission through the internet. The biggest advantage to VoIP systems is the cost of “long distance” or International calls. Very cheap and in some case even free. You will need an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) or other devices coupled with your computer. For example the popular MagicJack device that costs $40 for the unit plus a $20 annual fee. Or perhaps you may want to consider Vonage; NetTalk Duo; or Skype.
Google Voice – Basically Google Voice is a call forwarding service. It provides free calls and text messages within the US and Canada and has some of the lowest international calling rates around. Google Voice users in the US can place outbound calls from their cell phone app, from the web-based application, or by dialing their Google Voice number. However, users canot dial a 911 call directly.
Skinny the Bill – In this approach I can leave the landline connected but cancel all features; functions and premium costs to the bare minimum. I can drop unlimited calls; no Long Distance; no Caller ID; no calling cards; etc… and possibly get the bill down into the $25-$30/ month range.
Cell Converter – You could get a home phone connection from your wireless provider. Verizon has a device that a regular home phone plugs into which converts the home line into a cell transmission. It’s called Verizon Wireless Home Phone Connect. It is equivalent to adding an extra line ($10/mo) and has a GPS built in for emergency calls (so they will have your home location if you call 911). Sharing minutes and all that still applies like any regular cell phone would.
Cable Bundles – I already have Comcast as my internet and cable TV provider. I could add XFinity Voice or their Triple Play package and include phone access too.
MY DECISION -
Psssst….. Haven’t decided just yet because I am still calling and investigating all my options plus getting actual quotes versus the usual marketing specials and ploys to entice me to switch “at one low fee”… which expires in 6 months.
So if you have already made this switch – PLEASE leave a comment and let me know what you chose; how its working; and why you switched. Thanks