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The Beginning of the End of Land Lines February 27, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.

Just got a flyer in the mail today:

Your cell phone should never be your only phone
Keep your home phone line. Keep CenturyLink

The compelling reasons to keep your land line? Not very compelling:

  • “Works with 911 and when the power’s out, or if your internet goes down”
  • “Excellent call quality with no delays or lag time”
  • “Save your cell phone minutes for when you really need them”

I stopped the list there, since it was already getting pathetic.

When you’re putting out mailers like this, it’s a sure sign that the party is over. It was a nice run, but the land line is doomed.


1. Michael - February 27, 2012

It was a nice run, but the land line is doomed.

True for at least the last decade. Conventional analog landlines are a maintenance operation and a cash cow. The capital investment is going to wireless, or broadband digital to the home (mostly traveling on fiber optic systems) that can deliver advanced video like Fios or Uverse that provides a better service than CATV, which still depends on coax cable and has too many analog channels on the set top box.

2. Mitchell - February 27, 2012

I needed to get a land line activated for the home alarm system. I went with the cable company’s local service. Still, we’re going to have the standard telephone services around for a long time to come, because of The Poor™. We all know how this works right? Eventual gov’t subsidized or even owned / maintained telephone service so that The Poor™ will have “adequate access” to “affordable communication”. The Rich™ cell phone users will pay for it all with “reasonable” cell phone taxes and use surcharges.

If you have a problem with this then you’re A Racist!™

3. geoff - February 27, 2012

True for at least the last decade.

Yeah, but this is the first time that I’ve seen them admit that they’re feeling the pinch.

4. Michael - February 27, 2012

I don’t mean to disparage CATV companies like Time Warner or Cox. Their networks can pump a lot of bandwidth into a home.

Their problem is that they have an embedded base of billions of dollars worth of set top boxes which mostly receive analog channels and eat up capacity. Changing that out will not be cheap, and customers do not like change.

5. Alice Aitch - February 27, 2012

The only reason we keep a land line is because we keep ending up in situations where we have to fax things, and I’m too lazy/busy to research whatever the latest eFax type solution is.

That and it’s nice to have a phone number to give people you don’t really want to talk to. They get earfaxed.

6. Michael - February 27, 2012

I’m too lazy/busy to research whatever the latest eFax type solution is.

Fax is an obsolete technology that nobody uses. Scan the document with your printer, attach it as a .pdf file to an email, and hit the send button. The recipient will read it, and can print it, with Adobe, which is on virtually every computer on the planet.

Sheesh. You owe me a beer.

7. See-Dub - February 27, 2012

I’ve been keeping an old-school landline because I figure the copper system will stay up in an emergency or blackout. I hear cell service can get shut down around DC when things get sporty, so emergency responders get all the bandwidth they need.

Then Mrs See-dub met a fast-talking FIOS salesman who cut us a deal well under what we paid for the coppernet. But now I hear FIOS requires power to stay running, so there goes that justification.

8. OBF - February 27, 2012

I’ve just been stacking wood so that I can send smoke signals.

9. Retired Geezer - February 27, 2012

Thanks, OBF…
I needed an excuse to post my Doobie Brothers post again.


10. tankergrunt - February 28, 2012

Well, there’s always a question of how to get my DSL to the house. But when I get my phone via VOIP, I still get to tell Big Bell to get stuffed.

11. Michael - February 28, 2012

I figure the copper system will stay up in an emergency or blackout.

That’s actually true.

There are huge battery backup systems at your central office (i.e., your local switch), which are supported by fueled generators. I’ve seen them. (Legally they are hazardous waste sites). Most people don’t realize that their landline phone is not just a communications channel, but also a low voltage power network that mainly exists because, back in the day, it used to take some juice to make your phone ring. You can get a pretty good shock from phone wires if you are touching them and the network sends a ring tone because someone is calling you.

That old-time ring tone is why your hard-wired landline phone works when the electric power is out. The central office ain’t getting power either, but they are ready to produce their own. Your cell phone won’t work for long unless you can keep its battery charged. You are also SOL with cordless phones during an extended power outage.

12. daveintexas - February 28, 2012

Geoff, you’ll get that same list of benefits from the customer service rep when you call to cancel the line, followed by a number of offer to lower the monthly fee.

I still cancelled it.

13. Michael - February 28, 2012

I still cancelled it.

You bastard! How could you do that?!?

I would not even consider abandoning the landline phone network.

(Of course, even as a retiree, I get it for free.)

14. Alice Aitch - February 28, 2012

I wish it were that simple – but at least once a month we end up in a situation where our options are fax or snail mail, and snail mail’s too slow for what needs to get done. It usually has to do with medical stuff. Apparently doctor’s offices think it’s better to have paper floating around than to have an electronic record.

15. Michael - February 28, 2012

Alice, doctors are typically about eight years behind the technology available to them, when it comes to stuff like order entry, order fulfillment, billing, collection, and time management.

It’s like they are so smart about being doctors that they are stupid about everything else you need to know to run a business.

16. Michael - February 28, 2012

The really sophisticated businesses are the online flower companies.

They will send you an email to remind you that your daughter’s birthday is coming up, and offer you a good deal on a nice bouquet or maybe some chocolate-covered berries. If you are a registered customer with them, and have saved your daughter’s mailing address, it takes about three clicks to get this done.

17. daveintexas - February 28, 2012

>> You bastard! How could you do that?!?

Two reasons. First, I didn’t need it. Second, after the 2nd time I got slammed by some outrageously overpriced LD carrier and had to argue for 30-45 minutes to have those charges removed from my bill, it occurred to me I wouldn’t have to keep doing this if I didn’t have a land line.

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