One of the most commonly suggested tips for stretching the budget is to get rid of your home phone, especially when looking to relocate. Most everyone has a cell these days, just as many have Skype, and a few others are still using some kind of VOIP product like Magic Jack to bypass a traditional phone land line and make unlimited or, at least, really cheap calls.
To those who can make it work, I say “Kudos!” But first, hear my caveat. There are at least four VERY convincing reasons that you may want to keep that old-school telephone line:
While it is still possible to reach out to 911 operators with your cell phone, it may not be as quick or as accurate for the operator to tell where you are located based on the GPS alone. A landline has several advantages over the cell phone in the following instances:
- If you have small children in the home, who may not be able to relay their address accurately
- If you are seriously injured, cannot speak, and need to have the emergency operators know your location from just your caller ID
- If you live in an area where calls may be incorrectly attributed to the wrong cell tower (calls that come from towers across state lines, for example)
- During a major disaster, when cell phone lines are jammed due to everyone using them at once
Land lines offer access to emergency responders in rural areas where the cell phone is less than reliable. (Who wants a dropped call when you’re clutching on to life?) While the scenario seems dramatic, for those with small children, fragile health conditions, or in an area with a poorly developed cellular infrastructure, the land line is still superior.
Note: See if your state currently offers direct access to 911 only for homes that don’t have active land line service. At the time of this writing, California just changed theirs.
The appeal of working from home is strong. Moms with small kids or employees that have the ability to work independently from a remote office are both great candidates for doing most (if not all) of their regular work from a telecommuting arrangement. If you don’t have a land line, however, you can just about forget this notion entirely. Businesses want customer service reps and consultants who can provide crystal-clear calling quality to their internal and external customers – something that cell phones can’t always provide. Just look at the job requirements for an at-home customer service job, and you’ll see what we mean.
I live ten minutes from town, in a community that boasts only 1,800 people in it. 3G just became available in my area, but prior to that, I couldn’t make or receive calls in my own home, any stores I regularly shop, or on the road between towns I frequent. The purpose of having my phone was to be able to travel with a lifeline to my kids, but until recently, my cell sat unused anytime I was in my house. In the case of my obviously underdeveloped rural area, the cell phone loses, hands down, for calls originating from the home.
If you’ve looked into getting a home security system (one with an alarm AND instant communication to emergency responders), you already know the facts: most systems require a land line. Of those that don’t (perhaps they rely on wireless internet communication), they highly recommend you have one, anyway. Home break-ins are much more preventable with an additional layer of protection.
There is much money to be saved by cutting the phone line and switching to cell phone only. Provided you can get on the right plan, avoid overages, and negotiate around the difficulties mentioned above, it may still be the right choice for some.
What reasons do you have for keeping (or cutting) your traditional phone line?