The landline telephone will always be a necessity in the global era of communication. Unfortunately, the vast majority of telecommunications companies care more about getting your money than about providing you the reliable telephone service that you deserve.
Here's what's going on — lately as mobile phones have become more popular with consumers, more and more people have started adopting that technology. After all, what's not to like? Well, if you haven't read our blog posts on landlines and our blog post on the impacts of technology, I highly encourage you to do so. The trend we've been seen lately is a dangerous one — as mobile phone usage increases, landline telephone usage decreases. In the most extreme cases, the difference between a landline and a mobile phone could be life or death. At the other end, it could be as trivial as a failed relationship because that someone on the other end of the line thought you meant something else and broke up with you all because you were using a mobile phone and suffered from the terrible quality that cell phones come with. Since a good majority of people seem to have adopted mobile phones, a good number of them have posed this question to themselves — if I have a mobile phone, do I even need my landline anymore? After all, I can take my mobile phone anywhere, and my landline just sits here and receives telephone calls, right? You may have been one of these people too — it's a very easy trap to fall into.
So we know the real reasons that landline usage is decreasing everywhere around the world is because of economics. People don't want to pay for two separate telephone systems — why not just keep one? Well, pretty much anywhere in the world, landline telephone service will most likely cost less than your typical mobile phone plan, which means that by switching from a landline to a mobile phone, you actually end up paying more each month. What is more, you get much less for your money. The quality of telephone calls from a mobile phone is much worse, simply because they are not real telephones and they can't and don't use a dedicated wire. Despite this, people seem to have acquired the mindset that they are in fact, saving money. We can narrow this case to folks who have decided that they would like telephone service wherever they go, whether it be at a restaurant or at the mall. The reason being? Simply the fact that because as mobile phone usage as been decreasing, telephone companies have found it less profitable to maintain payphones all over the place. And because telephone companies would rather dedicated their resources to whatever makes them the most money, they then step into the mobile phone game and remove payphones from a number of places, which then ends up prompting more people to get mobile phones, causing the telephone company to remove even more payphones. It's like a never-ending cycle.
This is just one of the problems that "The Landline Project" aims to solve. By breaking this cycle, we can help everyone get back on track to a more humane life. Even though I've already discussed this, I'm going to breifly summarize why you need to still keep your landline, even if that means getting rid of your mobile phone (not the other way around).
21 reasons you "still" need (or want) a landline!
- Purpose — First and foremost, a telephone is a telephone. It isn't a crude replacement for your email client and it isn't your web browser. The landline telephone does exactly what it's supposed to do. The mobile phone on the other hand tries to many different things at once but can't do any of them that well. That's why no matter how many mobile phones there are, the need for desktops and landlines will always still be there. You just can't replace those technologies.
- Quality — Landline telephones offer the best all around voice quality. There's just no other technology that will be or ever has been as reliable as the traditional Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) system run on good ole copper wire. You can't beat that. This is why most businesses and agencies usually keep at least one copper landline for emergencies if they go VoIP. A common misconception is that landline communications are analog. Generally speaking, analog landline conversations have not existed in decades. Virtually all American phone switches are either the Lucent (formerly Western Electric) #5ESS or the Nortel DMS-100, both of which are digital switches. The #1ESS, introduced in the mid-20th century, used digital control but provided analog talkpaths. While some small PBX systems (i.e. Panasonic KX-TA series PBXs) are similar to the #1ESS in that respect, virtually all modern landline infrastructure is digital. A copper local loop is analog, but the telephone switch samples your audio and digitizes it as soon it hits the telephone switch. Only bits are routed through the switch, not your actual voice. Still, the voice quality is significantly better than VoIP, primarily because of bandwidth and latency. Furthermore, since the introduction of the #4ESS and T-carrier, long-distance calls have been digitized as well which means less distortion and no loss in quality over long distances. As phone phreak Evan Doorbell put it, you can now hear a pin drop over a long distance landline call.
- Service — All you need for a landline telephone to be able to communicate with any other telephone in the world is a line that it can be connected to. You can run a line to the top of a mountain or the bottom of the sea, and it's much more practical than building a brand-new cell-phone tower. There are lots of places in the United States, especially in rural areas, where you can't get broadband Internet access, but you can get a landline and use dial-up!
- Reliability — Landline telephones are, without a doubt, the most reliable telephones in existence. Because all you need to make a call is the copper wire connecting your telephone directly to a telephone exchange, and because that cable is most likely buried underground, you can depend on it even during the darkest hour. After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, all of the cell towers were down and there was no wireless connectivity at all. However, those with landline telephones were still able to place and receive calls. Those who didn't have a landline telephone, either because they couldn't afford telephone service at all or because they were dumb enough to cancel their telephone service needed to use street payphones to make telephone calls. Which brings us to another point — payphones are still useful, and they'll always have a place. The payphone may evolve, but it won't disappear. We'll discuss this later on.
- Price — We've talked about all the great advantages of using a landline, and the best part is it's probably cheaper than using a mobile phone. Mobile phone providers make you pay for many non-telephone functions, which apart from defeating the purpose of a telephone, also adds a hefty charge to your bill. Those who have switched from landlines to mobile phones are wasting money, not saving it — primarily because landline service, although much more expensive lately (which is where "The Landline Project" comes into play), still remains for the most part much cheaper than a mobile phone plan. And many families will then feel compelled to buy a mobile phone for everyone in their family as well. If the average mobile phone plan is $60 per month and landline service is $20 per month, and you switched from one shared landline telephone in your house to individual mobile phones for everyone, your expenses will increase by 1200%, from $20 per month to $240 per month! This is where family plans may become handy, but that doesn't completely refute the problem. Even acquiring separate landline service for each individual would cost less than a comparale mobile phone plan, as demonstrated by the ubiquity of PBXs in most organizations today.
- Impersonal — One of the worst parts about knowing someone with a mobile phone is you hardly do anymore. They insist that you video-chat, text, or email rather than telephone them or see them face-to-face, and if you ever do meet face-to-face, they're enamored by their mobile phone. When you use a landline and you don't use a mobile phone, you don't get that problem. There's hardly anything compelling about a landline phone — unless you're making a telephone call, there's really no reason to be using it. Sure, you could listen to the dial-tone all day or take it apart, but that would be beyond frivilous for the majority of us. When both you and the other person depend on landline telephones — the personal connection is still very much there. When you use a mobile phone to communicate with others, or when you use when in a face-to-face scenario, the personal connection is no longer there, and it feels like that person is no longer there either. The goal of technology is to enhance the human experience, not replace it. An additional perk of this is that people are more likely to let you use their landline telephone than their mobile phone. Because mobile phones are so much more than telephones, they cringe at the very thought of anyone getting ahold of it besides them. Well, what can you do with a landline telephone? Dial *69?
- Not Tied to You — This doesn't apply to everyone, but for families that have adopted mobile phones, they've most likely transitioned from a landline telephone tied to the house to mobile phones tied to individuals. Well, which number do you give to the power company and the water utility? If you put it on a mobile phone then that user will be tied to that responsibility. Give them your landline telephone and it's your household's responsibility to make sure the bill gets paid.
- Answering Machines — For those of us that have answering machines, we like them. If you switch mobile phone providers, you probably can't keep your voicemails. And you probably can't switch your voicemails to another mobile phone that easily. With a landline, they all work independent of each other. Go wild!
- Convenience — For the bulk of us who prefer landlines to mobile phones, this is a big one. To use the telephone, you can just pick up the receiever and dial. It's a no-nonsense type of deal. With a mobile phone, at the very best, you have to press a button to wake it up, perhaps another to unlock it and then enter a PIN to "gain access" to it, and then press yet anotherbutton to make a telephone call. And then depending on how weak your brain is, you then need to scroll through your list of contacts because you're no longer capable of remembering telephone numbers. Gosh, the guy who used a landline already did his business and hung up eons ago.
- Expectancy — The nice thing about landline telephones are that they're there. No, really — most people don't plug in a landline telephone to use it and then unplug it when they're done making a call. You can just pick up the telephone and dial, rather than wandering around the house wondering where that mobile phone went and pulling your hair out over it. And if you go over to a friend's house, if they haven't lost their minds yet, they've got a landline telephone as well. You know it's there and that's that. End of story. You know how easy it can be to lose a cell phone. Well, good luck finding anyone who's lost their landline before.
- Flexibility — Complex telephone installations, like key telephone systems and private branch exchanges require the use of corded telephones.
- Emergencies — In an emergency, you should use a landline telephone. The primary reason is that your telephone number is automatically tied to your address so even if you can't talk to the 911 responder, they'll still know where you live and be able to dispatch help. If you use a mobile phone, the call center instead receives a set of GPS coordinates, which more often than not are hardly accurate. In many cases, mobile phone users have ended up getting connected to call centers in different counties. This isn't a situation you want to be in when your mother's having a heart attack. And if you're using a mobile phone, they'll be more likely to mishear you and send the fire department instead of an ambulance.
- Safer — Going along with emergencies, landlines are much safer than cell phones and other wireless alternatives. Cell phones have been proven to cause cancer by building tumors in the brain, and wireless devices and mediums such as cell phones, WiFi, and smart meters emit harmful radiation. Because landlines are wired, there is no such risk. As a general rule, go wired whenever possible over wireless (scratch that, it's always possible so just always do it). If you have a laptop, you can connect to your network with an Ethernet cable and disable your wireless NIC. Do everything you can at all possible costs to avoid using wireless technology. Wires may be a pain, but they can save your life and are more reliable, are safer, and are obviously the real deal here. Wireless implementations like WiFi depend on wires anyway — just go for the gold! Plus, personally, having a lot of wires when they're organized can look pretty cool. Ever seen cable racks in the ceiling or pictures of server racks? Pretty neat, huh? And remember, if something's not working, you can always just pull the plug. No need to mess around like a donkey.
- Hanging Up — Okay, this isn't really an advantage — but you don't get the satisfaction of slamming the receiver down when you hang up with someone you've just had a heated argument with on a mobile phone.
- Ease of Use — Landline telephones are flat out much easier to use, for many of the reasons we've already talked about. It's pretty easy to be able to teach anyone how to pick up a receiver and either use the numberpad or rotary dial to call a number. Good luck teaching your great-grandmother how to text (it's not happening).
- Energy Usage — How often do you need to charge a mobile phone? How often do you need to charge a landline? Well, the answer is never — landline telephones are relatively simple — whereas mobile devices are constantly consuming power when turned on, traditional telephones don't use any power on standby. Talk about "going green"! And because your landline gets all the power it needs right from the telephone line, your landline will continue to work in a power outage.
- Disconnectivity — Sometimes, you just don't want to talk to anyone, and you don't want anyone to be able to reach you. You just need some time to yourself. If so, you can take your landline off the hook or just unplug it. Maybe they'll understand when they hear a busy tone. With a mobile phone, you have an urge to constantly be connected and you lose sight of some of the really important things in life.
- Health — Corded landlines don't emit a Class 2B carcinogen like cell phones and cordless phones. And thousands of peer-reviewed studies haven't correlated corded landline usage with brain tumors, headaches, and infertility. Enough said.
- Security — Landlines are safer all-around. They can't be hacked as easily since you need direct physical access to the line in order to tap it. Because cell phones and other implementations are wireless or involve using the Internet, they can be easily hacked by any amateur. Sensitive information should never be shared over cellular, VoIP, or cordless phones.
- Universal Access — Landlines can be installed and found pretty much anywhere, including in rural areas, and even in prisons. Landlines are also relatively easy to build and thus it's easy to design your own telephone systems. There's a whole new world of possibility that gets opened.
- When It Stops Working — What happens when your telephone stops working? We've all been there — we're expecting an important call in 10 minutes and now they can't reach you! We'll if you gave them your landline number, you can just unplug the telephone, grab a spare telephone and plug that one in and it'll work just like before. If you have a mobile phone, at best you'll be forced to take it apart and fickle with the SIM card and batteries. At worst, you'll be paying a visit to your mobile phone provider to get a new mobile phone or have them service it — not something that can be done in 10 minutes.
Is there really any reason to have a mobile phone at all?
The long and the short of it is NO — you don't need to be always connected and always reachable. It's literally not healthy for you. And even if you do have a cell phone, that doesn't eliminate your need for a landline. The truth is that mobile phones really aren't an innovation of the landline telephone. They're a completely separate technology, and they're a downgrade at that. Now, in the age of technology, why would you downgrade? You wouldn't give up your all-powerful desktop at work for a 5 inch tablet, so why should your telephone needs be any different?
Now, what about smartphones, you might ask? They can do so much more than just a landline telephone! True, you can't send an email with your landline (although you can send a fax), but analyze the situation a little bit — the purpose of a telephone is to be able to successfully place and receive telephone calls. And at that, a landline telephone wins over a mobile phone anytime, anywhere. In otherwords, cellphones, mobile phones, smartphones — whatever you might call them, are not really telephones in all respects. They're a compromise invention, sort of like how green is a compromise of yellow and blue. You don't get the full benefits of yellow, and you don't get the full benefits of blue, but you just get a little bit of both. That's what smartphones are. They aren't as good at being telephones as a landline telephone. And they aren't as good at any non-telephone stuff as a computer. You get a very compromised experience. The smartphone is a compromise invention that isn't good at doing anything in particular. It can do a variety of tasks, but it can't do any of them well. This is why power users don't use mobile devices and they use desktops. Why would they want a compromise device when they can get the real thing? If you need to do anything besides making telephone calls, use a computer. You might scoff at senior citizens for sending faxes, sending telegrams, using Windows XP and using a rotary telephone, but the reality is that all of those are much more capable and much more powerful than the small, lightweight, mobile, compromise devices of today. So senior citzens aren't technology-dumb — they're actually much smarter than the younger generations that are more mobile these days. They know what's best for them, and they've made the right choice. Most young people aren't yet old enough to know the difference between technology and real life, and most mobile device users don't have much ambition either. You wouldn't use a tablet to get real work done compared to a desktop, would you? Why should making a telephone call be different? Think about it.
If you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense. We always like things to be bigger and better. Landlines offer superior call quality and they offer numerous benefits that mobile phones simply were not designed to exceed. Getting rid of our deeply integrated POTS grid will return us to a pre-1870s era. Landlines today are most often found in the homes of the wealthy. Indirectly, landlines have become representative of how developed a country is, as most developing countries typically lack landline infrastructure
Finally, I'll wrap this section up by reviewing this case at a different angle — in addition to the benefits of landlines and some of the negatives of mobile phones, there are negatives about mobile technology in general as well as positives about fixed technology (like landlines and desktops). For one thing, we have been increasingly increasing our reliance on technology, which has become especially profound as mobile devices emerged and gained popularity. Many people can't remember telephone numbers anymore. And almost as horrendous, many people aren't able to navigate anywhere by themselves. Now that you can load maps onto a mobile phone, complete with GPS capability, many people have effectively used technology to replace a large portion of their brain. You don't see the negative consequences of this until the technology isn't there anymore. For example, in the early 1900s, if telephones just suddenly disappeared, what would the effect on society have been? Well, probably not much, given that at the time only the elite owned telephones. Today, however, a large part of way of doing things would unravel rather quickly! The point? GPS is a great resource, no doubt — but you must remember too much of anything is fatal, and technology is a great example of this. We have reached the threshold where there is more technology that humans really should be exposed to on a regular basis. We have crossed the threshold where technology is no longer aiding or supplementing the human experience, rather, it is replacing it. Being able to navigate somewhere is a life skill. No matter how much technology there is, you need to know how to do. Anyone can use a computer and be able to calculate the route from Seattle to Chicago using a program like Bing Maps. The question is, without technology, could you do it? Human ingenuity, the true value of one's role today, is not determined by what he or she can do with technology. It is what he or she can do without it. In other words, if computers and telephones weren't around, would your life have value? If the answer to that is probably not, you need to rethink a core component of how you live your life. As for navigation, you should for sure be able to navigate more or less anywhere in your vicinity, including to any street in your town or city, and major areas in the surrounding metropolis. For those in a rural area, it would be a good idea to know how to get to an urban area. And everyone should know where all of the interstate highways in their state go and the very basics, like the names and capitols of all 50 states. A GPS system, or a navigation tool like Bing Maps is great when you're going somewhere you've never been before and lies outside your immediate area, such as in a neighboring county or state. But a GPS is still a little extreme — finding directions on your computer and printing them out should suffice — true, you might miss a turn. But you'll be able to drive without that annoying GPS voice and more importantly, it's about the journey, not the destination. Immerse yourself in the surroundings. Enjoy the thrill of driving and not knowing where you're going. You'll pay more attention and you'll gain a better appreciation for the world around you. There is a world outside of technology — embrace it.
The Next Step
Inevitably, not all the arguments made in this article will appeal to everyone. A few of them may have struck a chord with you, depending on how logical you are. Regardless, the reality is that most telephone companies have turned selfishly against their customers. By raising your telephone bills, they'll hope that you drop landline service so they can abandon the technology all together in order to maximize profits. Plenty of people, including us, are mortified at how greedy large telephone corporations, especially those that also provide mobile phone services, have become. If your telephone company is pressuring you to drop your landline, or you've noticed that your bills have been increasing every month, that's probably a sign that your telephone company no longer has your best interests in mind.
Don't play right into their trap! Stand up for your right to basic, safe, reliable connectivity, and defend your copper landline! Contact us using the link at the bottom of this page if you need assistance in defending your right to safe, reliable communications.