Is It Time to Drop Your Land Line?

Several months ago, I mentioned that we’ve been experimenting with using Skype at home for many of our telephone calls, and that I was ready to switch to using Skype as our primary phone. Skype, for those unfamiliar, is a service that allows one to use their broadband internet connection as a telephone line.

In the article, I discussed a number of the benefits and drawbacks of this move. Clearly, it was cheaper than the cost of our land line on paper, but our land line was part of a bundled service with our telecommunications provider, and dropping the land line wouldn’t actually save us that much at all on our total bill. Although it appeared to be pricey on paper, dropping that land line would also cause us to lose our “bundling” discount, and the two almost completely counteracted each other.

So, for the time being, we’ve kept our land line, but I’ve continued to use Skype for many business-related calls.

That brings us to a suggestion from reader “Joe”:

I haven’t had a land line in nearly 5 years and haven’t missed it in the least. In the past 6 months, I’ve also switched to one of the low-cost cell phone providers for huge savings each month. By not having the land line, I’m saving about $40 a month, and by going with one of the low cost providers with unlimited usage I’ve gone to having a $45 a month cell phone bill. Total savings is about $80 to $100 a month versus having one of the pricier wireless providers and a landline at the same time.

Joe’s comment spurred me to do a serious re-evaluation of the telephone lines in use in our household. After all, our monthly telecommunications bill regularly runs into the three figures, including broadband internet, cable, a land line, and our cell phones.

What can we actively reduce from this expensive monthly mix?

The first step for figuring this out is accurately evaluating what we need. To do this, I started keeping careful track of the actual usage of our landline and our cell phones. Here are some key questions we asked ourselves during this process.

Were we actually taking advantage of the portable nature of our cell phones? Are we actually using them as truly mobile devices, meaning are we using them a significant amount outside of the home? If we’re not, then a prepaid cell phone may be all we need to take care of any mobile needs, reducing the monthly bill. From our evaluation, it appeared as though the majority of our cell phone usage was at home.

Were we truly taking advantage of our unlimited plans, or is our call volume low enough that we’d be better off with a plan with limited minutes? We were able to accurately track this by carefully examining our bills – both land line and cellular – over the last few months. How much were we using on each? Were we far below our limits? It turns out that we have never been close to our usage caps on our cell phone, so we requested a change to a different plan that will save us about $10 per month.

Were we using text messages significantly enough to pay for a plan for those, or would we be better off paying per message? This one was easy for us – we were only using a few texts per month, so we called and requested a switch to a “pay per message” plan that will save us $5 or so per month.

Is our cell phone service (while at home) as reliable as our land line service? In our case (luckily), the answer is yes. We live rather close to a tower that seems to be used by several providers, so almost every cell phone provider has stellar service from our home.

Do we travel significantly? With a three year old and a one year old at home, travel isn’t a normal part of our lifestyle, but it’s an important question to ask. The more travel you do, the more important a cell phone would be in comparison to a land line.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, the clear route for us (for the time being) is to wait until our contract expires, cancel our cell phone service, and get prepaid phones. This is our tentative plan, one that we’ll keep in mind as we monitor our phone usage over the next several months.

What’s the take-home message here? Walking carefully through your usage of such services can often point you towards ways to save money. Keep in mind what you’re actually using and what you actually need and you’ll eventually be led to the best deal for you.

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  1. Meri says:

    I don’t travel much, but I ditched my land line a couple of years ago anyway. My cell phone is my only phone and I don’t miss the land line at all, one of the biggest cost saving moves I’ve made.

  2. Like Joe, we recently dropped our land line and have realized the same type of savings (give or take a few dollars).

    The quality of my mobile plan is outstanding (we use Verizon) and on the hardware side things have gone well (no signifant issues with voice quality).

    Given our specific needs, we don’t see the need for a stand alone phone line (beyond folks accustomed to our old number). Moreover, amongst 20-35 years olds the idea of having a mobile line as a main line is pretty standard.

    Cheers,
    http://www.scordo.com/blog/blog – a practical living blog.

  3. Intelligent post, Trent. It sounds like you did a systematic and thorough investigation of both your usage patterns and your strategies for enhancing them. Great job on finding more monthly savings.

  4. Ian says:

    My wife and I have prepaid cellphones and we have Vonage at the house.
    I’ve found Net10 to work just fine for me. I pay $20 for 200 minutes and it lasts me like 4 months. Where else can you get cell service for $5/month?
    Vonage is significantly cheaper than than a traditional landline and has free long distance. Also, Vonage is router based, and only requires a router to be on in order to function. Skype and Magic Jack, on the other hand, require your computer to be on, and therefore waste electricity.

  5. leslie says:

    This is an interesting argument. We currently use Optimum Online (Cablevision) which has a Triple Play package: Internet, Land Line and Cable Television all for $100/month.

    Since we rarely use our land line, I called to inquire about canceling it. What did I find out? I would save $2/month if I canceled our landline. Since the phone is still convenient to use for 1800 numbers and daytime calls, I figured the $2 wasn’t worth saving so we just kept it.

  6. Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy says:

    I used to have a plan with limited minutes for my cell phone that worked well for me most of the time. But there were about two months a year where I would be on vacaiton or traveling in which I would use my cell phone more, go significantly over my monthly limit, and incur huge fees.

    Because of that, I’ve gone to an unlimited plan which, aside from saving money from over-use charges, gives me peice of mind to not worry about wether or not my next cell phone call is going to be the one that pushes me over the limit. So, although “normal” usage may not be alot, you want to take into account those few times where you may need to use your phone alot more than normal, and account for that in your decision.

  7. Peter says:

    I got laid off about 3 months ago and this really caused my wife and me to reevaluate our cell and internet plans. My wife is concerned also that cell phones cause cancer, which I’m sure if you had one strapped to your head 24/7 for many years, it probably will. Be that as it may, I switched from cable internet to DSL via AT&T. That sent my internet bill from $55/mo to $20/mo. The speed is reduced as well, but we weren’t really using it for large downloads. We also had two cell phones at about $44 a piece, so we dropped one and picked up a landline for something like $17/mo (this also helped us reduce the cost for DSL). We ended up saving quite a bit on those two services. Not to mention we have never had cable tv. We would much rather be doing something else. Plus the trend is moving away from it. Check http://www.hulu.com Just my two cents.

  8. KC says:

    We currently have landline through ATT with internet service. We have DirectTV and three cell phones. 2 of the cell phones we don’t pay for. One is Virgin mobile that is $20/quarter. Now that we are moving we’re thinking of dropping landline and getting our internet through DirecTV and maybe picking up Vonage. But I’m wondering if we need a tradition “home phone” at all?

    That being said I hate a cell phone. I hate carrying it and I hate people being able to reach me all the time (although I know I just can ignore it). But one of those free phones mentioned above is a Blackberry and I love the mobile internet and the texting capabilities. Perhaps if I carried the Blackberry more I might be more open to cell phones.

  9. Mitch says:

    One advantage of cell phones–your number can move with you. I like the fact that I have only one number that I give out to everyone I know. If someone really needs to get a hold of me, chances are pretty good that they can reach me no matter where I am or how long it’s been since our last contact. The convenience factor has to be taken into account.

  10. Keith says:

    I used Skype as my only phone for a while. At the time I was working as a 911 operator so I understood well the limitations of many internet-based phone solutions. I had a BlackBerry at that same time with a data-only plan. So I could get email pushed to my mobile, and if I had to I could call 911 from the cell.

    Now I just use my cell as the only phone and haven’t had any problems. I just don’t see the value in a $30+ landline for me. I do encourage my mom to have one though, so I agree they have their place.

  11. Sam Ribnick says:

    Here’s a great guide on how to get rid of your landline. Should make it a little easier if anyone has been hesitant to make the move:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2205328/

    Sam

  12. UrbanMom says:

    If you have teenagers, it might be a good idea to keep the land line. You can’t make collect calls to cellphones, so if they need to call from a payphone they won’t be able to get a hold of you. The teenagers I know often have cellphones with dead batteries. Also, if someone is arrested, the calls from the jail are always collect. Just a thought, spoken from experience as a parent.

  13. Gus says:

    Trent, what about safety in potential emergency situations? Cell phones are reliable, specially if you live close to a tower, but if there is a power outage, your cell phone will most likely not work; you landline _may_ work.

    Some phone companies offer services for very low usaage. Some 15 years ago, NY Telephone used to have a plan destined for people who rarely used the phone, which offered a very low flat monthly rate and a large per minute charge. If there is something like that in your area, you may want to have that kind of service for purely safety reasons – many personal finance advisors see “insurance” as an investment option, and I would chalk this landline expense in this category – and use a combination of Skype/Cell phone for outgoing calls.

  14. Holly Hansen says:

    This has been drifting around in my head for some time. Can I ditch my land line? Can I ditch my cell phone? Can I ditch cable? The big thing for me is that I NEED internet, I’m a computer junkie what can I say? My choices to get it seem to be either from the phone company or from the cable company. I’m sure that to get it from the phone company I need a land line. I can get internet from the cable company with any extra services, but it is expensive…$50 a month! It’s $45 WITH cable. That seems like a lot to spend to me. I don’t know why everyone up there is paying $30-40 for a land line. You don’t need all the extra stuff! You don’t need caller ID, call waiting, etc. You don’t need to pay for long distance service either if you have it on your cell phone and can get decent service on that. I pay about $18 a month for my land line, and $20 for cable. I have a long distance provider that is pay per call and I don’t have to pay a monthly fee. I usually spend maybe $2-3/month on that. So I pay about $40/month for land line, internet and long distance.

  15. Alexander says:

    I keep my landline for emergency purposes. We had the electricity go out on the whole block. Our cell phones did work but I wasn’t going to stay on hold and burn my minutes.

    When I have customer services calls to a 1800 number, I always use my landline. It’s keeps me from having to charge my cell and pay for minutes.

  16. Matt Caldwell says:

    Excellent article. I got rid of my land line a couple of years ago and never looked back. For many people, it’s a totally unnecessary expense.

  17. ThomasB says:

    I work in telecommunications and would never get rid of my land line. Earthquakes, power outages, solar flares,atmospheric conditions, system upgrades, peak usage hours can all take out cell service, and at least where I live they do. Land lines work no matter what, without the “potential-not- proven-but likely-radio-frequency- exposure-issue -of cell phones.”
    My personal tests of skype show so-so performance.

  18. Todd says:

    Great article. My wife and I aren’t big phone talkers. We paid for two Verizon cells for six years, for about $70 a month. We’d use about 90 minutes of talk time on each phone per month. We realized what a waste even the cheapest 250-minutes plans were for us. We switched to pre-paid TracFones, get just as good reception as before, and cut our $70 a month to only about $15. We also switched to Skype and went from $45 a month to almost nothing.

    Luckily we live around great neighbors on all sides of us who are keeping their land lines and they all said if we ever have an emergency (when cell service, the internet and the electricity are all out) we can use their land lines. I told them I’d give them $20 for making one such call–in the unlikely event it ever happens!

    The $100 a month savings is great.

  19. Jessica says:

    I actually just added a very basic land line service after not having it for two years. My husband and I often leave our cell phones on vibrate and/or don’t carry them with us as we move about the house, so we often missed a lot of calls.

    In light of a recent diagnosis in our household, we also decided it was worth having land line service, because in case of an emergency (which is now more likely to happen)neither of us wants to be searching for a possibly missing phone.

    Not having a land line was fine though for us until this happened. I would probably have felt different if we had young children though.

  20. Izabelle says:

    I know I am going counter-current with this but I simply do not have a cell phone, and nor does my husband. We do not plan to have one in the near future.

    Our landline (basic service + high speed internet) costs us 55$/month including unlimited long distance within my province (which is huge in area and includes pretty much everyone I call). We have a physical answering machine so that we can hear whoever is leaving a message when we feel like filtering calls (and we can take messages from it when we are away).

    With all of this, I have yet to feel the need for a cell phone. In fact, I do not quite understand how we have come to be so dependent on them; did we not do just fine in emrgencies before?

  21. Anastasia says:

    If you switch to prepaid cell phone service, be sure to count in the cost of the phone itself. With most contract services, phones are subsidized, so when you sign (or renew) a contract, you get a nice phone for a cheap price. For most prepaid services you have to pay for the phone yourself.

    There are a lot of inexpensive phones out there, so it doesn’t necessary make prepaid more expensive than a contract phone. It does however change the math a little.

  22. LJam says:

    I have a security/fire system for my home. It makes my wife sleep better and decreases our homeowner’s insurance. Plus, my mother-in-law is not in good health.

    I was under the impression that a security system required a land line. Does anyone know of a remote monitoring system that doesn’t require a land line?

  23. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    I don’t use the phone much and have found this mix to work really well:

    landline phone at the house, with an answering machine from several years ago hooked up to it: costs about $13/month thru Qwest. No extras added-on. This is the number I give people to use _when_they_want_to_get_a_hold_of_me_.

    home landline long distance thru 3utelecom. one-second billing increments; good rates.

    cell phone: prepaid cell from Virgin. cost is $15 per 90 days (==$5/month) (all for usage; no fees). phone was free (technically, initial usage credit == cost of phone). This is the phone I use _when_I_want_to_get_a_hold_of_someone_ and I am not home. Almost noone (aside from immediate family) has this number. It’s a low usage phone.

    TV: dishnetwork. They are cheaper than comparable satellite and cable here in AZ, and better as well (for example: you get the _east_coast_ feed of Comedy Central, so the Daily Show airs at 8PM (==11PM east coast)… instead of airing at 11PM with cable. Makes a world of difference if you are a morning person…)

    Internet: Internet basic service thru Qwest: $25/month. I find that I don’t really use more than 256k up/down, so I don’t pay for the higher speeds. Qwest won’t give you an email address at that price point, so I just use a service like gmail or yahoo instead. Have multiple gmail email accounts and set up one of them to check all the addresses. Now you can control who knows about which of your email addresses….

  24. jo says:

    I use a pre-paid TracFone which was free (a promo deal). I have a land-line which runs me $7.04/month – it’s local area calling only, no long distance, no bells and whistles. My deal may not be available to everyone but our phone company is required by law to make such a service available to disabled folks so that they can always call 911 in an emergency. It is a service that the phone company does not promote, advertise or willingly tell you about – but ask! My land line is needed too for my DSL connection, but it’s as cheap as one can get.

  25. In Canada, authority does not yet allow to have a call-in number on Internet based applications like Skype. However, I pay only around $20 to have a land line with a caller ID and a call waiting. Can’t complain!
    Cheers,
    A Dawn Journal
    http://www.adawnjournal.com

  26. I think a good follow-up post would research/address the question of using Skype if the electricity goes out or your ISP goes down in an earthquake/fire/tornado/malware attack, etc. Is that a concern for you?

  27. Jamie says:

    We have been landline free for 3+ years, ever since moving back to the US. However, I know when the kids get older, mom will insist on a landline strictly for the 911 functionality. That’s $30/month for security and reliability unmatched by any other service.
    Seriously, when was the last time a land line phone didn’t work? Now compare that with cable TV, internet, power, even water (recent flooding). Just an interesting sidenote…

  28. Colleen says:

    We have no landline (but we do have Skype service), and we switched to prepaid cell phones. We do save a significant amount of money over what we were paying for the lowest-end family cell phone plan, but it is annoying to have to pay for more minutes even when we have hardly made a dent in the ones we’ve accumulated since we got the phones. The alternative is losing all those minutes, which would be bad both psychologically and for those few times when we’re travelling and need more minutes.

    Nevertheless, I have to remind myself that $15-20 a month per phone is still a significant savings over $35-40 a month per phone. (Our units cost $30 each from Target and came with $10 prepaid credit for no additional cost, but if we had used AT&T or T-Mobile, we could have repurposed our old, unlocked GSM phones.)

    By the way, since we knew almost everyone in our families had Verizon cell plans, we went with Verizon prepaid. We don’t have to pay per minute for calls to their phones. If most of the people you call are on one provider, it might be worth checking that provider’s prepaid options for such perks.

  29. prodgod says:

    @LJam: Since we’re planning to ditch our landlines soon, we recently had our alarm service install a cellular panel to monitor our system. We know people who had land line monitoring, just as we used to, but when they were burglarized, the robbers just cut the phone lines and didn’t have to worry about getting caught. I’m much more comfortable with cellular monitoring for my alarm system now. It’s $10 more a month, but that’s less than it would be to keep the land line.

    @Izabelle: Sure, I could live without my cell phone, but it would be a huge inconvenience. Imagine I just ran to the store to pick up some groceries and my wife forgot to list an item. It’s incredibly convenient to call me with it. If I’m running late for an appointment or stuck in traffic, I can make a courtesy call. I never have to wait at home for an important call, since I can forward all calls to my cell phone. The conveniences are too numerous to mention.

  30. Martin says:

    In Australia, many ISPs offer “naked DSL”, which is broadband DSL over copper, without the cost of a land line. As part of the package, they provide a VoIP account, with very competitive call rates.

    Naked DSL is another option for getting rid of your land line.

  31. Battra92 says:

    We can’t ditch the land line. That would mean giving up my rotary phone!

  32. Ryan says:

    Ljam,

    Check out http://www.nextalarm.com

    They offer a broadband adapter so your security system can contact them over your internet connection. I think this would be more secure anyways because intelligent burglars often cut the phone line.

  33. Jay Reeder says:

    Losing the landline makes sense – until you have a blackout (cell towers only have a few hours of UPS, and no generators) or an area-wide emergency (Katrina, 9/11, et al) that saturates the cell capacity.

    For the peace of mind that “bulletproof” phone service brings me, I pay $14/mo for the absolute cheapest service that the local wired telco provides. You’ll have to do your homework and be prepared to argue with the sales rep, but similar deals are available in most areas.

    Telecom trivia: on those rare occasions when a wired switch is saturated, you might not even get a dial tone. But wait: just keep your phone off hook, and the switch will (on a FIFO basis, no less) eventually give you a dial tone. It might take a minute or ten, but the switch will get to you if its still alive and the copper is intact.

    God bless the long-dead Bell System engineers who designed their system to keep running even in the face of “once in a 100 years” events.

  34. Sarah says:

    I’ve used my cell phone exclusively since 1998. I really wanted to get a cell phone back then because I was away at school and spent a lot of time driving around in my really crappy car, and once I realized that long distance was included in my calling plan it was a no-brainer. Doing this has only become cheaper since then, so I have only become happier with my decision. We have 2 adults sharing a plan with ridiculous rollover leftovers for about $70/month, and we get internet service at home via the cable company in a bundle that costs about another $60. People know how to reach us individually, and we’ve kept the same numbers through several moves around the state. Why have several numbers for people to call under different circumstances, or change your number to reflect the local area code? I really like to keep things simple and consistent. Our communications bills (actually, all of our bills since we negotiated our utilities into our rent) run the same each month and we don’t have to think about them beyond making sure they’re paid.

    We rent and don’t have the kind of possessions any burglar would be too excited about (trust me, we’ve been through it and they took absolutely meaningless, practically worthless crap!) so an alarm is the last thing we would spend money on each month. But if I had shiny things I would feel pretty secure using a broadband connection – maybe even more so, since it is so easy and obvious to cut a phone line.

    If I still had a LAN line, I think it would be the first monthly expense to go if I needed to cut anything out of my budget.

  35. bozemanmontana says:

    great idea – unless you’re on parole, probation or electronic monitoring. All require a land line (at least in MT)

  36. Will says:

    As I was reading the suggestions about ditching the unlimited plans for mobile, sms etc, and going to a pay-per-usage plan, I was thinking that for me personally, even if I could save a little bit of money doing this, I wouldn’t, because I enjoy the freedom of an unlimited plan.

    For me, if I knew I was going to have to pay exactly 10c or whatever for every SMS I sent, I would think about that every time I sent a message. “Well gee, that just cost me 10c, and I bet he won’t answer….”.

    Also, with a pay-per-use plan, when you save only $5 per month by switching, it only takes one big month where you are organising a party or you go on holidays that all your savings are gone.

    I guess it comes down to what is valuable to you. In my case, I am willing to pay a little bit extra to enjoy the freedom of knowing I can send an sms and not have to think about exactly how much cash just left my bank account.

  37. Definately a smart move to get a pre-paid cell phone considering most of your talking is at home.

    I actually got rid of my landline long ago and just use my cell exclusively, but my landline was not a part of a package deal. I applaud you being proactive.

  38. Amy Smith says:

    I would think with small children at home you would keep a landline. Does yout babysitter have a cell phone on them at all times. Does your sitter know how to use skype? Can it be used for emergencies: fire/police and get you local help quickly or is there a time lag before the right county gets connected?
    My husband is a firefighter strongly opposes doing away with landlines. You can strip your landline down to the bare-bones basics and pay only about $13 a month (maybe less where you are?). A cheap insurance policy in my opinion.

  39. MikeinMass says:

    With two kids (aged 3 and 5) at home I am not willing to rely on a cell phone or a VOIP service in case of an emergency. So add me to the few who keep the landline as an “insurance” policy.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m happy paying that bill each month with the ridiculous additional “taxes”.

  40. I’m in the same boat with my land line and the prepackaged service discount. I also have an alarm system that requires a phone line for use, but maybe that’s changed. I’ll have to check.

    Thanks for such detailed analysis. You’ve given your readers a lot to think about in making this decision.

  41. Jackie says:

    I just dropped my landline yesterday. That plus dropping some cable channels I never watch is going to save me $90/month. Still have internet and cable TV. (And IPhone) I did think over the 911 issue. Call me a skeptic, but if there is an emergency bad enough to take out the cell phone, I doubt you’ll get rescued anytime soon, even if you could get through. I think you’d be on your own anyway.

  42. Amy says:

    At my first apartment, I inherited the land line from a previous roommate. I kept it to use dial-up *gasp* before getting DSL for a cost of a monthly fee plus per outgoing local call (not per minute) – I’d log on once a day. This also meant I had unlimited toll free and incoming calls without using up my cell phone minutes. I eventually cancelled the land line when I was away for a summer though.

  43. Monevator says:

    Trent, I can see you’re thinking it through here, but is there a danger of not seeing the wood for the trees.

    A cell phone will always give you the option of calling and being reached from outside of the home. A landline phone will never do that.

    I agree it’s becoming increasingly attractive to pick one or the other, but the fact your using your cell only (for example) 1 out of 10 times outside the house is a value that’s hard to put a price on… it’s not just the price of the call.

    Also, there may be emergencies (for instance, medical or family related) when people need to reach you when you’ll be *very* grateful you could be contacted (I speak from personal experience, unfortunately).

  44. Rick Hamell says:

    I’ve been land-line free for nearly five years. I bought a pre-paid T-Mobile card. They had a deal where you could take up to a year to use all your minutes instead of 90 days. So I now buy 1000+ minutes for $100 every six months or so.

    Another option was to drop to basic cable with my internet. I actually got a discount over just internet if I had both so that made a big difference.

  45. Blair says:

    When I moved to Philly, I never set up a landline, and I’ve never missed it. I’ve also noticed that everyone I call has a cell phone, and I exclusively call their cell, rather than their landline. If I want to talk to mom, I call mom. If I want to talk to dad, I call dad. If they’re in the same place, they’ll hand the cell phone over. Anymore, we’re not calling locations, but people.

    I’ve been trying to convince them that, with their usage pattern, they don’t need the landline. But such progress is slow. If they can get a bit better reception at their house, then I think they’d switch, too.

  46. Kevin says:

    I really need to look into this more. I just “feel” like we’re paying way too much for our cell phones and landline/DSL through AT&T. Our satellite service (DirecTV) claims you need a landline to connect to the receiver, but I question that. Alas, we just renewed our cell contract for 2 years in April, so we’re stuck with that $85 a month for the time being. And I bet the naked DSL would only save me $20 or so a month by dropping the landline.

    I looked into prepaid cell for myself, but even at 100 min or so a month it was still upwards of $30 or so, negating any savings by dropping off the wife’s plan.

  47. mike says:

    If Sprint is your carrier, you may be able to opt out of your contract in January. Look at this:

    http://consumerist.com/5091023/escape-sprint-etf+free-over-administrative-fee-increase

  48. Jillian says:

    We haven’t had a land line for 5 years. For us it’s cheaper to use wireless internet and our mobile phones. I prefer email, IM and SMS over talking on the phone anyway.

    There are two things that bother me about not having a land line. The first (as previously mentioned) is alarm monitoring, and the second is that people expect you to have a land line, and a lot of online forms require you to fill in that field before they’ll let you submit (I just fill it with 0’s, but it still annoys me!)

    I agree with Jackie about the emergencies. Who are you going to call? Maybe you’d want to call your folks to let them know you’re OK, but other than that what good is a phone in that kind of emergency?

  49. mnorthcott says:

    When I lived on my own, I never had a landline installed. Being from Canada, they often told me that i needed a landline, and initially I used my roommate’s landline for this. Once he moved out I searched the internet and found that you could get something called a “dry loop” put in and that would suffice in place of a telephone line. I wasn’t able to make phone calls but it was able to hold the dsl connection on it. If only I had trusted myself to look further for a cheaper VOIP option i probably wouldn’t have put myself onto vonage, which was easy to set up, but i found it a pain to get out of.

    In the case of an emergency i’ve used my cell phone to call 911, but i’ve realized that if the power fails even the cell towers, alot of people wouldn’t have use of a landline because so many phones these days require electricity to use them anyways.

  50. Shevy says:

    Very timely. My November 26 post was entitled “Goodbye Landline Hello Savings”! I’m pretty excited about the $50 per month we’ll be saving.

    Our cell phones are important. My husband is required to have one for work and gets some reimbursement from them for the expense. I have my beloved (free) BlackBerry and we both have 5 favorite numbers for free (spouse and kids basically plus at least one other).

    We don’t have phone service at our country home so use the cells there always anyway, plus I can get all my emails, read blogs and post via Blogger all from my BlackBerry. (The nearest free wifi is 20 minutes drive and to install satellite hispeed would be $35 per month when we’re only there a few days per week.)

    The landline was useless anyway. Everybody calls us on the cells except for the telemarketers and getting rid of them is going to be a big perk! The 911 issue doesn’t affect us because we share the city house with an adult child and her family has a landline. In an emergency we could use that.

  51. Ann Marie says:

    We do not have a landline now. We have only cells. But as soon as I am pregnant, and for the foreseeable future after that, I will only be using a landline. This is not a direct link to the article, but sums it up:
    http://xeniacitizenjournal.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/cell-phone-use-during-pregnancy-is-the-reason-for-early-childhood-behavioral-problems/

  52. Chris de Vidal says:

    We used to have only cell phones and no land line — but we went back to it. I require a high speed connection for my job. We used to use a very inexpensive local wireless provider (Clearwire) and my company pays for my cell bill, so the only other charge was my wife’s bill and any extra minutes I wanted, which came to around $55/month. But Clearwire just wasn’t reliable in my neighborhood, so I had to switch to the next-lowest cost high speed option, which was DSL, which of course gives you a phone line for free. I chose the slowest DSL package and only the basics on the phone line. It amounted to about $13 more per month over Clearwire.

    At first we ignored the extra phone line because my cell bill had many, many minutes (over what the company paid for), but after doing the math and carefully examining our call usage, I realized how much I could save by switching to another plan (Sprint SERO, $30/month) and switching back to the land line which we already had.

    I now have a land line, my cell which is still paid for by the company, and I got my wife a Net10 prepaid phone. It’s on automatic payment so we don’t have to search for phone cards every month, and 150 minutes (more than she uses) is only $16.05 after taxun.

    We are now paying less overall but I forget how much less (sorry, it’s late or I’d be more precise). And given that Sprint’s reception is ugly in the house, it’s nice to have a land line to fall back on. If I have to make a long distance call I wait until 7pm or the weekend, or just make the occasional call in the day, or I use an old Sam’s club card that I bought almost 10 years ago which I keep refilling. 3 cents/minute with a small recharge fee, not too bad but one of these days I’ll do the math to see if that’s costing me.

    Great article, just remember that everyone’s situation was different; in our case, it wasn’t cheaper to drop the land line.

  53. Jeff says:

    I’ve got Vonage, and pay $15/month for 500 minutes. I rarely go over that, and even in my busiest month didn’t go over enough to cost as much as the unlimited plan. Single best move I ever made. There were some hiccups for the first few months (this was about 6 years ago), but the service has matured greatly and we rarely have a problem anymore.

    The only thing I worry about is the emergency+babysitter+no electric scenario. Given that we’ve yet to have a babysitter at our house, though… no problem.

    I have a barebones cell plan with Verizon that only costs me $18/month for service, plus usage charges. We’ve managed to keep the total bill a bit below $30 most months (sometimes well below) since we only use the cell rarely, though usage has crept up from time to time, and I need to revisit whether a prepaid plan would help.

  54. We got rid of our landline in favor of using just cellphones about five years ago.

    We got barraged by telemarketers constantly even when we were on the Do Not Call list. My friends and family called our cellphones and we barely used it for outbound calls.

    I thought “Wow, I am paying $50/ month to be annoyed by telemarketers.” We canceled the landline and I couldn’t be happier.

    Tim Rosanelli
    timrosanelli.blogspot.com
    60situpschallenge.blogspot.com

  55. I switched to a T-Mobile pre-paid phone a year ago and it’s even better now with their free nights (after 7pm). I use the pre-paid when traveling and replaced my landline with a Cricket phone which costs $25/month for unlimited calls as long as I use it within my home city.

    Between the both of them my cell phone bill is about $45/month. It saves me $10/month over AT&T and I have unlimited minutes now.

  56. SomeoneOutThere says:

    Has anyone seen this?

    A way to “plug in” your cell phone at home, have it connect to the house phone wires and allow you to use your regular land-line phones with your cell phone?

    That way, when you are home, you can use a land line phone in each room. When it rings, it rings in each room.

    You might even be able to set aside a dedicated cell phone at home for that specific purpose.

    Is there any technology on the market that does this?

  57. J says:

    We tried Vonage, it was a truly horrific experience. Horrible customer service, call quality was terrible, calls got dropped left and right.

    “Oh, it’s your router”
    “Oh, it’s your local ISP”
    “Oh, the computer must be taking up bandwidth”
    “What? What? I can’t hear you. What?”
    “No, I didn’t get your message”
    “Yes, I was home all the time, the phone never rang”

    We switched back to a landline, offered in a bundle with cable and Internet for $99, plus unlimited national long distance from our town-owned and operated power/cable/phone company. The phone always works, stays up when the power is down, voice quality is crystal clear, we got to keep our number, etc.

    The land line infrastructure in the US is top notch and must provide service under severe conditions. Cell phones and Internet phones do not. Also, cell phones and Internet phones have crappy call quality. It’s obvious to the caller that you aren’t on a land line when you call.

    A phone is something I want to “just work”. I have little interest in making another center of hassle to deal with.

  58. Geoff says:

    Comment #7. Hulu.com is great. I dropped my cable TV over amonth ago as I found I spent most of my time looking for something to watch, rather than watching anything. Ever since, I just check out Hulu once a week and watch some great shows and movies which, if you open an account, store them for you.
    p.s. great post Trent

  59. George says:

    We’re one more family that doesn’t have a cellphone. The landline plus high-speed cable Internet (1.5/7.0 Mbps) is $90/mo. No cable TV or satellite dish, so that $90/mo is all our communication bill amounts to. We’re Internet junkies and love the bandwidth.

    As Izabelle said, how on earth did y’all manage before there were cellphones?!? LOL

  60. I do envy the United States for having real competition when it comes to cell phones. Here in Canada we are stuck with an oligopoly comprised of companies who seek ways to gouge customers to improve their bottom lines.

    For this reason, I stick to a cheap prepaid phone. My option was Virgin Mobile Canada. The nice thing is that I only have to put a bit of money ($15) into my account every 6 months to keep my phone number active. The nice part is that I can’t get any nasty surprises at the end of the month: I can only spend what I put on the phone.

    For my long-distance calling, I have found a nice option: jajah.com. It is a European-based company that allows me to make phone-to-phone calls via the internet. Skype would be nice, but many of the options that available to American customers are not available here in Canada as someone noted in a previous post.

  61. beth says:

    I’m a little late to replying here, but I have my own version of this whole thing too.

    We switched to cell-only in 2001 when we moved across the country. We were perfectly happy with it until we discovered two things: DirecTV required a line to dial out on and we had a terribly unreliable tower near our house. So we bought the 500 min $15 Vonage package (which DirecTV didn’t have any problems calling out on, btw), and haven’t looked back. Vonage lets you register your location on the web site for e911. I will say their customer service can be intolerable, so if you have a testy ISP, it can be trying. But we have been thrilled, and have moved our number across the country with us simply by plugging in the box.

    I have also never had a problem with calling 911 from my cell, the few times I have had to do it. Once or twice, it routed to a nearby city’s switchboard, but one of the first things I do is tell them I’m calling from a cell so they can re-route me to the proper city. And, I figure that if we have an disaster big enough that the cell service is down, my priorities won’t likely be on making phone calls until I’m somewhere that I could use a landline. Even my 200+ person office is strictly VoIP these days.

  62. I’ve had good experiences with Skype, but I just plain don’t need more than my cell phone. One of the ways I cut big costs is by not paying for more than one line.

    You can also cut by removing additional services you may not need such as extra minutes, texts, ect.

  63. Disco says:

    Let’s think very carefully about the “emergency” scenarios mentioned here: tornado, flood, fire, etc.

    Keep in mind that countless businesses, as well as the government, DEPEND on cellular networks. They cannot get along with this service. For this reason alone (businesses lose money when they can’t talk on the phone), cellular service would be restored quickly in the event of an emergency.

    We don’t live in the stone age.

    My wife and I got rid of the landline over five years ago and have never regretted it. I can count on one hand the times it would have been “nice” to have, but it’s never been necessary.

  64. Nick says:

    I haven’t seen the point of having a land line since cell phone service became relatively cheap. Anyone that needs to reach me can, right away, regardless of whether I’m home or not. It’s just easier that way, and cuts out another expense.

  65. prodgod says:

    @SomeoneOutThere: What you’re looking for is the Dock-N-Talk.

  66. Donato says:

    I switched to Vonage 4 years ago & loved it. 2 years ago I switch back to a lan line & DSL. Why? Vonage was great but my broadband service (Comcast) was not so great for internet phone calls. Sometimes I would hear an echo, sometimes bad quality, sometimes service would go out completely. During a power loss I lost the phone. Not worth the hassle. I have no quality loss with my lan line. My wife would always got on my case about Vonage. I kept on telling her to deal with cause were saving cash. Finally I realized she was right (don’t tell her I said this). The $20 a month of savings was not worth the quality loss.

  67. Bill says:

    I won’t be giving up the landline (er, Vonage) anytime soon. I don’t give out my cellphone number to very many people because I don’t want to be around-the-clock reachable by everybody.

    Plus, when my home phone rings, I can pick up any phone in the house. Many times I just drop my cellphone on the dresser when I get home and it basically gets ignored.

    Whenever I try to call someone outside of business hours, I try to call their home phone first if they have one. I guess this is because I had a cellphone back when minutes and plans were expensive and I hated when people would call me on it.

    Plus, when I want to call one of my married friends, I can just call and speak to whoever picks up.

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