Should I lose my landline phone in favor of my cell phone?
July 18, 2006 11:33 AM   Subscribe

The pro's and con's of killing my land line phone service in favor or going purely cell phone.....Go!

I pretty much make all my call during the day at work, or on my cell phone at night. Meanwhile I still have my landline, basically cause thats how I grew up, and it seems odd not to have it. My bill is about 28 bux a month, and about 20 of it is random taxes and services. (note: I have the most basic of phone plans).

Is there any good reason, not to just abandon the land line at this point and live strictly off my cell? for the most part, my cell service is fine. I get good reception where I am. I have 'yet' to be in a situation where i needed my cell in an emergency at home, and it did not work....

but part of me still feels a bit awkward in losing the landline and saving myself about $300 a year in wasted conveinence.

posted by TwilightKid to Technology (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I dumped my landline in January and have had no adverse consequences--not one.
posted by Prospero at 11:34 AM on July 18, 2006

Simply clicking on your own tags would reveal this previous question.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 11:36 AM on July 18, 2006

Eh, mostly pro, but: if your landline phone breaks, it's $10 to replace at any hardware store. If your cell breaks, for Verizon it's $50 for a replacement, and they won't actually tell you that, they'll try to get you to re-up your contract, and the Verizon store didn't have a replacement on hand, so it had to be ordered, and I've been waiting a week to get the replacement, and no, they have to ship it to your home, not to the store, but you have to take it back into the store to get it activated, and there'll be another $10 to transfer the numbers. Meanwhile, no phone for me.

So if you go cell, well, I'd definitely explore what recourse you have if your phone breaks. And I'd avoid Verizon. Oddly enough, this guy, whom Verizon tried to get arrested after he spent six hours trying to get a replacement phone, still thinks they're the best choice (of a bad lot?). Go figure.
posted by orthogonality at 11:42 AM on July 18, 2006

I got rid of my landline about 10 months ago and wonder why I didn't do it sooner. The only thing I had to think about was all the long distance calls I make from home...but I quickly found a service that costs a mere 2 cents/minute after I dial into a local number, which itself costs nothing on my cell plan. There are tons of these about if you do plan on making long distance calls from your cell.
posted by meerkatty at 11:43 AM on July 18, 2006

PROs of going land-line only:

- cheaper

CONs of going land-line only:

- if the power goes out for an extended period of time, you'll be out of luck
- it is easier to call 9-1-1 from a land-line
- if you have small children, it may be easier for them to use the more durable land-line phone (to call 9-1-1 or even talk to Grandma.)
posted by k8t at 11:44 AM on July 18, 2006

I dumped my landline three years ago and only recently did I encounter a speed bump. I'm a Dish Network customer and I upgraded my receiver to a new one a few months back. Since I had no landline to plug into the receiver, Dish is charging me an additional monthly fee because the receiver can't call home to the mothership. I never ran into this issue with my old Dish receiver, but from other forums, I'm not the only one encountering this on the newer receivers.
posted by JigSawMan at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2006

I haven't had a landline in 5 years. Just make sure your plan has more than enough peak minutes each month because if you go over you'll get severly penalized (vzn charges $.45 a minute overage).

You'll need a landline only if you want to use DSL service or if you plan on getting a securtiy system for your house.

Also on the plus side, a lot of times a city/town that's as little as 25 miles away will be billed as a long distance call. Using your cell phone negates this issue.
posted by premortem at 11:47 AM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Make absolutely sure your cell gets a good connection throughout your home. Dropped calls are obnoxious. Other than that, the only con I can think of is the slightly inferior sound quality of a cell, and it doesn't sound like that bothers you.
posted by squidlarkin at 11:48 AM on July 18, 2006

In order to give you advice, it would help to get a picture of what you do and what you intend to do. Do you live alone or with others? Do you host friends or gatherings regularly? Do you plan to move soon?

Some people in your situation might find that they have a need to give out their phone number to people or agencies, but don't want to give their cell number out like that. Your work number won't help in those situations if you are not 100% certain of your job security, or if you plan to change jobs.
I give out my home phone instead of my cell phone to vendors/agencies - for instance, I gave it to David's Bridal when I was planning my wedding.

My husband and I enjoy having friends over for dinner, etc., so it's helpful to have a central phone for people to call if they are late/lost/etc. - timely calls at a time when my phone might not be at-hand.

That said, maybe you can skip land-line in favor of something like VoIP or one of those 1-800 pin things.

Oh, also, make sure you don't need the land-line for TiVo or similar.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:50 AM on July 18, 2006

If you eventually find yourself making a lot of 800 number business calls where you're put on hold for lengths of time then that will be annoying (and eat up your minutes) on a cell phone. I travel weekly and am always calling airlines, some of whom put me on hold for 15 minutes or more, so I've chosen to keep a bare-bones landline.
posted by General Zubon at 11:51 AM on July 18, 2006

if you have small children, it may be easier for them to use the more durable land-line phone (to call 9-1-1 or even talk to Grandma.)

At some stores here in San Francisco, I've seen big landline type phones (even old rotary type ones) that "plug into" a regular cell phone just like any handset. Never saw them as anything other than novelties but I guess kids-use is an actual practical use.
posted by vacapinta at 11:51 AM on July 18, 2006

I went cell only about 3 years ago and haven't had a single issue with it, except that I have to watch my minutes. I never get telemarketers, too, which is great. And, I've moved twice without having to tell anyone my "new" number.
posted by knave at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2006

orthogonality: You can activate any verizon compatible phone over the internet for free in about 7 minutes. You have to have "my account" registered and then you can insert the "esn" number which is behind the battery into their "activate equipment" field. If you go to the store, they will charge you $15 to activate the phone and $10 to import all of your phone contacts.

meerkatty: I always thought that cell phones had unlimited long distance. Not always the case?
posted by premortem at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2006

Didn't katrina teach us that land lines are better in emergencies?
posted by boo_radley at 11:55 AM on July 18, 2006

The two downsides, for me, were that the sound quality of a cell phone is never as good as a regular phone, even using earbuds, and on the rare occasions where I needed to talk for several hours non-stop, I couldn't.

So I have both.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:55 AM on July 18, 2006

I am keeping my land-line because right after the hurricane I couldn't get through using my my cell phone (I finally was able to use text messages three days later but still did not have access via my cell phone) and the land-line was restored in less than a week and was able ti use that with no problems. Also, on a side note, I wouldn't recommend getting your cable, internet access and your phone service all through the cable company because after I came back to New Orleans you were out of luck if you had your phone through the cable company--you could watch cable and get on the internet but couldn't use the phone.
posted by govtdrone at 11:56 AM on July 18, 2006

I have t-mobile....Havent had any probs with dropped calls in my apartment....i only really use my home number to order food for delivery. i use my cell phone for everything else.....not planning on moving immediately....i do have DVR servie with my cable, but i dont think that has anything to do with my phone line, or does it?
posted by TwilightKid at 11:57 AM on July 18, 2006

I've been cell-only for all of my adult life and have never considered once picking up a landline at all. My wife and I each have a cell phone and can't think of any reason to get a landline. The only benefit as far as I see it is the 911-factor, but we are getting closer and closer to unified e-911 solutions every day. There is already fantastic support in many areas, and it is simply a matter of time before it is the standard instead of the exception.

I don't fault people that do have landlines - there are some legit reasons to keep them. For my situation, however, there is no practical reason to pay extra for a service I won't use.

For the record we have a Cingular family plan. We have 1000 pooled minutes, which actually is too much. Since we have free mobile-to-mobile calling we don't use many of our actual minutes. Cingular has rollover as well, so we have literally over 5,000 accumulated rollover minutes. Not to mention free long distance.
posted by sprocket87 at 12:06 PM on July 18, 2006

I haven't had a land line since 1997, and I really don't miss it all that much.

The main reason I went with just a cell phone is that I was moving every 8 months for school, and the fees to transfer the land line service were getting really expensive. I was also getting really tired of having to change my number all the time as well.

The cons I've come across in my last 9 years of cell-only life:

* Long distance. Cell phone plans typically charge an arm and leg for long distance minutes. You can get around this with either a better plan or calling cards, however.

* Crappy reception. I once movied to a location without checking service levels, and spent a miserable year having to at least go outside, if not down the street, to get useable reception. The only reason I didn't resort to a land line then was sheer stubborness on my part.

* Daytime minutes. Most plans are pretty generous with their weekend and evening minutes. (Make sure you check when evenings start however - it can be anywhere from 6 to 9 pm!) They get you on the daytime minutes, so you have to be really careful about tracking your usage, or you'll pay a small fortune for those extra minutes at their premium rate.

* Dead batteries - it *really* sucks to need to make a phone call asap only to disocver your battery is dead, or when it dies in the middle of an important call. Sure, you could always plug it in, but doing the mad scramble around the house looking for the charger while you're on the line and your phone is beeping at you incessently isn't fun.

* Losing the damn thing. There's no land-line to call your phone if you lose it (to make it ring so hopefully you can find it). And if you lose your phone on the bus or drop it in the toilet or whatever, you're SOL until you can get an expensive replacement.

That all being said, I will never again own a land line.
posted by cgg at 12:08 PM on July 18, 2006

There's one con to going cell-only that hasn't been mentioned yet. If you have an alarm system that's centrally monitored, it almost certainly requires a standard land-line to contact the monitoring station.
posted by gwenzel at 12:12 PM on July 18, 2006

Possible cons:

- Depending on your carrier and your plan, long distance charges can be prohibitive
- Important calls that must happen during peak times that might be very long. Example: calling the government (for tax questions for instance). This can eat up your minutes and your battery's charge. These sorts of calls may not be required often, but when they are required, there's little avoiding them.
- In emergencies, cellular service may be deliberately shut down by order of government for safety reasons. (Such as concerns about cells being used for remote detonation of explosive devices)

These are not going to be issues that come up regularly, but they're worth considering.
posted by raedyn at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2006

I pay about $5/mo for an absolute bare minimum landline, but it's not even connected to a phone. I have it for the DSL and because it's a nice security blanket in all those emergency scenarios.

In general, there aren't any problems. I don't use the phone much, and I never know where my headset is. Therefore, whenever I make a long call that I would have previously made on the landline, I end up a little concerned about radiation. If you always have your headset handy, that wouldn't be a concern for you. Also, sometimes when the power goes out, the cell towers do too, leaving the landline as the only way of calling out. Haven't needed it, but it's nice to know it's there.

The quality on the cellphone calls is worse, but it's not a real big deal, and I haven't had problems with dropped calls at home.

We have DirecTV and some DTiVos, and they haven't called out in a year. Other than the nag screens and lack of software updates (which don't really happen that often anyway), no adverse effects.
posted by trevyn at 12:19 PM on July 18, 2006

We pay ~$50/mo from qwest for unlimited local and long distance on a land line.

I pay on average $55 each for two cells ($110 total).

In our case though, we live far out so land line is the only reliable option at our home. We tried VoIP for a while but it just didn't cut it from a reliability and quality standpoint.

Still - back to my original point - $50/mo for unlimited local and long distance is not bad. Think of it like a 3rd cell phone. And if there's a real, dire emergency the livesaving properties of having a landline phone that's tracable, findable, and won't go out with the power when you call 9-1-1 is a real lifesaver.
posted by jimmy0x52 at 12:23 PM on July 18, 2006

i haven't had a landline* since 1998 and I have no regrets. In that time i've used bell south's mobile service which switched to Cingular, briefly tried SunCom/AT&T, back to Cingular, and now I use t-mobile (just to get a blingy new phone). They all have their ups and downs, but i have NEVER wanted for a landline, so I say DO IT.

* i had to get a landline once, to get DSL, in 2003. But i never actually attached a phone to it, just the DSL modem.
posted by casconed at 12:31 PM on July 18, 2006

If you do********** ving most of you*************ally unlistenab**************** CKING STATIC AND D********** LLS then it's okay but I would make sure my reception is really solid otherwise it**************** and you wind up like going to your neighbor's house for import******** ff.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:47 PM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

In lieu of a landline, you could use Skype right? They have phones that work with Skype. You know, if you wanted that landline phone feel without having to pay the fee. SkypeOut lets you call land phones and cell phones for free if I am reading their site correctly.

But I guess that wouldn't offer you a phone number for people to call, but they could just use your cell for that.
posted by bDiddy at 12:50 PM on July 18, 2006

Be absolutely sure that your cell phone gets good reception in your home. I don't get good reception in my house and its quite frustrating to constantly lose calls.
posted by rglass at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2006

Here's what Consumer Reports has to say on the matter: "Keep a landline, regardless. It’s possible to forsake local landline service and simply use your wireless phone or VoIP service as your local carrier....

But we don’t recommend dropping your landline, at least not yet. Cell phones don’t work everywhere, especially in rural areas. Cell-phone networks also have capacity issues, making it difficult or impossible to place calls when the system is overloaded. What’s more, having a cell phone is no guarantee that you’ll be able to make calls if your local landline system happens to go down; that’s because cell-phone calls may travel over those same wires for part of their journey.

Finally, in only a handful of states, as of this writing, would 911 first responders be sure of pinpointing your location, and then not as precisely as with a landline.

VoIP, too, might leave you phoneless in an emergency if, for example, the power goes out. If you choose to make either wireless or VoIP your primary telephone service, we still recommend maintaining at least basic landline service at your home."
posted by NYCinephile at 1:08 PM on July 18, 2006

Another benefit of a land line is if you have or plan to get a fax machine in your home. We have a combination fax/phone that we use more often than we really expected.
posted by tastybrains at 1:12 PM on July 18, 2006

POTS also has capacity issues--as witnessed on 9/11 when I couldn't get a call to connect to anyone.
posted by gsh at 1:29 PM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Multiple extensions. I've got 3 handsets on one line in my house, and it's nice to A) be able to get at a phone quickly in any part of the house, and B) have myself and my wife on the phone at the same time, while we talk to a 3rd party.

Ergonomics. A big handset is just easier to talk into for extended periods, and my phone has a speakerphone mode, which I mostly use for navigating automated voicejail systems.

Money. I haven't quite worked out the math, but if you had one tech-support call per month, with long times on hold, with a cellphone you'd either get into overages or need a bigger plan. I've got one of those phone/cable/Internet combo plans with all-you-can eat local+long distance, so my added cost for a landline is pretty low.

Reception: I've actually got bad cell reception at home, so a landline is pretty important.


It's just one more thing to keep track of and clutter your life with.

It is a little more money.

People don't necessarily know which is the best number to call you at.
posted by adamrice at 1:31 PM on July 18, 2006

I haven't had a land-line in 11 years. And I would never go back. It's one less bill to pay, one less thing to worry about. My calls are always free (evenings and weekends). It's portable, I only have one number and it follows me everywhere. I have NEVER received any kind of telemarketing call.

Negatives (the only one I can think of):
1. Depending on your cell phone service, you may lose the ability to do any sort of dial-up networking or faxing.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2006

Didn't Katrina teach us that land lines are better in emergencies?

Yes. And yet, k8t list this under her land-line only CONS:

- if the power goes out for an extended period of time, you'll be out of luck

I know some who think their mobile does better during a power blackout, but when pressed for detail they admit the only phone they have at home is a cordless (which becomes a lump during a blackout). During a power failure, an old-fashioned phone connected to the land line works fine. If that period of time becomes "extended" I guess the telephone switching centers could fail, but then, so will your cell phone towers.

Note that you can bring your land-line phone bill way down by eliminating the long-distance carrier.

And a benefit of the land-line is you can have a real answering machine, with which you can screen calls.
posted by Rash at 1:41 PM on July 18, 2006

i did this for 2 years, during which i thought frequently about the money i was saving...then went back to a land-line. the big cons for me go as follows:

i found that the reception, delay, and general conversation-flow issues with the cell were enough to interfere with my will to call people. also, i ended up with a low-end kyocera phone at some point, which puts out an incredibly high signal wattage (ultimately good for signal, but seriously bad for microwave radiation on your heed).

i've since picked up the land-line as well as a cheap calling card as a way of talking without worrying about radiation/headaches/missing syllables.

just something to consider.
posted by garfy3 at 2:41 PM on July 18, 2006

i ended up with a low-end kyocera phone at some point, which puts out an incredibly high signal wattage (ultimately good for signal, but seriously bad for microwave radiation on your heed).

Note that this kind of radiation is non-ionizing and there is no mechanism by which it can harm you, and also that no links between cell phone usage and cancer are supported by any evidence. So don't let that factor in. If I could hook up my cell to a car battery and quintuple my signal I would.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:09 PM on July 18, 2006

To piggy back off this comment. For people who ditched their landline, can you still get DSL in your home?

I've been trying to ditch my landline ever since I moved in, but the DSL company (SBC) insists that I have to keep it if I still want DSL.
posted by nakedsushi at 4:21 PM on July 18, 2006

Your cell number is not in the phone book. Friends who want to reach you can't look you up. The poor quality is a drag sometimes.
posted by theora55 at 5:43 PM on July 18, 2006

I have my landline for only two reasons:
-I want to call abroad without a stupid calling card
-I need to buzz people up if they come visit
If you don't need either of these things, get rid of it.
posted by easternblot at 7:17 PM on July 18, 2006

I went cell phone only for a little while but the reception is horrible in my apartment so I got a land line back.

The two greatest land line advantages in my mind would be that the call quality is better (especially in mission critical- say job offers- situations) and you never have to worry about conversation length.
posted by drezdn at 8:37 PM on July 18, 2006

See, for example, this Democracy Now story package page -- assuming you don't think Pacifica is irretriveably left-wing :-)
posted by baylink at 8:39 PM on July 18, 2006

[a few comments removed, take to to metatalk or get a room]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:30 PM on July 19, 2006

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