It’s official: The landline phone is dying.
Over half of U.S. homes are now fully wireless – a huge jump from a decade ago when only about 15 percent had dumped their home phone – while a scant 6.5 percent of households are landline service only.
The numbers are even more severe, upwards of 70 percent mobile-only, among those under 35. But yet, a whopping 40 percent of homes with wireless or cell service still also maintain a landline phone.
Why would you keep your landline phone?
The primary reason people keep their home phone is in case of an emergency. In the event of a power outage or if cell service is interrupted, many feel as if landlines are necessary if there is a crisis. It is true that landlines are run on a dedicated power source usually buried underground, and are mostly immune to outages and natural disasters. So, if this is a concern for you, it might be a good idea to retain a landline.
Additionally, keeping your landline phone service is helpful if your cell signal is unreliable. Many homes are built with metal and concrete walls and have radiant barriers in the attic which block cell signals. If you have trouble getting service indoors or are in a bad location, a landline can be crucial.
There are a few other reasons why keeping that aging pushbutton phone might be useful. Did you know that fixed phone service is good for your credit rating? Having a landline from Ma Bell is a great way to have proof of residence for credit and legal purposes. Additionally, if you make a number of international calls, landlines are often the cheaper option. As well, while 911 location services for cell phones has vastly improved, if emergency services are needed, a call from a landline might expedite help to your location. And as we all know from experience, the sound quality of a landline is usually superior, but that’s of little help if the person you’re calling is on a cell phone.
Cost is the primary factor
The positives often outweigh the negatives of going mobile-only. A third of people ignore their home phone when it rings, assuming the call is spam or from a salesperson. And, believe it or not, over a quarter of people don’t even remember their home phone number when prompted.
The overwhelming reason that people are dumping their landlines is cost, with standard home service averaging $40-$50 per month. As we pay higher and higher fees for cell service, maintaining a landline can be superfluous. If you have a good cell signal in your house, the economics of having two phones often doesn’t add up. And with so many VoIP services such as Skype or video chatting on Facebook or Google available, the options for wireless calling seem endless.
Those with landlines often feel like they never use them, and when they do, it’s frequently unsolicited sales calls. Spam calls are much more infrequent on your cell phone – as mandated by federal law – which is reason alone to dump the landline for many.
Is it still worth having a landline phone?
So, is it worth dropping landline service? If you feel confident in your community’s 911 service through your cell phone, most likely. Experts estimate landlines to be obsolete by 2025.
But go ahead and do the math and determine if the cost savings are worth it. Contact your cable company and see if you can save money with a landline, internet and cable bundle or call your local phone service and see how much a bare-bones home phone plan would cost. It may be worth the few extra dollars to hang onto that old rotary dial.