I Still Have a Landline. Sort Of.

I miss my landline. Can never find the damn cell phone! the lovely Chris.tine said yesterday. Naturally, that got me to thinking.

I’ve become a VOIP evangelist or perhaps a voipelist for short. A few years ago, I looked at my then-Verizon bill and my dissatisfaction with Verizon-chicanery and realized that technology could save me money.

One of Verizon’s cute tricks in this market is to charge for message units. They don’t use that Jersey-centric term here (they call it “local calling”) but the bottom line is that they charged a long distance rate for calling the next door neighbor and they hid the charge in an arcane counter rather than breaking out the individual calls. I prefer knowing how much it costs me to call Rufus, so that irked me. I hate toll calls. I bought the upgrade with unlimited local calls just to keep my blood pressure in check

At the time, Ma Bell and her progeny cost us about $75 per month and I was paying another $20 or so for dial up Internet access. Remember dial up? ‘Nuff said.

Cable service finally came to North Puffin and Vonage was advertising pretty heavily. I could buy “High Speed Internet” bundled with basic cable TV and switch my existing phone number to the VOIP provider, all for less than the $95 per month POTS and dial up cost us.

Sold, American.

This wasn’t an easy step for a Luddite like me. I just replaced my VCR with another VCR, wear button-down shirts, and drive a ten-year old car and a ten-year old truck. Not simultaneously.

On the other hand I also have a cellphone. SWMBO has a cellphone. I’m thinking about dropping even the VOIP service in favor of those cells alone.

I’m not alone. The number of U.S. households choosing only cell phones surpassed households with only landlines in 2009. Verizon reports that the number of homes with a traditional copper POTS connection dropped 11.4 percent last year, to 17.4 million on their system now. That also means Verizon recently announced it would cut at least 11,000 jobs, people they don’t need to maintain landlines.

The cell phone has come a long way since Motorola introduced the DynaTAC which cost $3,995 in 1984. (Wealthy) users could talk for 30 minutes or so before performing a 10 hour battery recharge in the two-pound “brick.”

One big operator offers discounts to landline-free wireless customers who combine Internet or TV service from the company which, of course, means they still tether you to their land-based infrastructure.

Even businesses are dropping their own landline phone systems, and moving to wireless.

I’m still a voipelist for a few important reasons. I really really prefer using all the house phones because the sound quality is good, the phones are convenient, and anyone in the house can access them. Cell docks don’t do that all that well yet and the speaker phone on my cell is lousy. I call Canadian numbers frequently. We have business contacts, friends, and a dentist north of the border. The cell plans that interest me make Canada a toll call. Remember, I hate toll calls. Oh, yeah, and cell service right here in North Puffin still sucks.

Hey, T-Mobiley! Fix those problems and I’ll dump my sort-of-landline in a heartbeat.

I am never without my cell. I feel naked without it. It was the house phone I would always lose, another correspondent wrote.

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud but I have never (yet) lost a cell phone and I rarely lose the housephone(s). Some of them are hardwired to the wall and the cordless variety all have this wonderful “page” feature. At the end of the day, though, I mostly carry the phone — whether cordless or cell — in my pocket.

The most popular irritation voiced in the surveys I checked is to figure out where the darned cell phone is.

Here’s a thought. One in 50 households has no phones at all.

4 thoughts on “I Still Have a Landline. Sort Of.

  1. I have such a feeling of deja vu all over again. I’m not sure about the correspondent who may have been known to affect that state but if Rufus had a cell phone, but no clothes on, he would definitely still feel naked.

    The Boulder City Council is about to rule that wearing only underwear to a council meeting is forbidden. The moves comes after a resident addressed the meeting … in his boxers.

  2. I frequently walk around the house in just my underwear because it amuses the cats and cuts down on air conditioning expenses. The problem Is that there is no place to put my cellphone where I can get to it quickly if it rings. Invariably it will.

    Did I mention that I wear jockey style shorts? No? Well, I do; and there is a built in pocket that — in my case — goes grossly underused. ahem.

    So, I keep the phone THERE.

    And, of course, I keep it on vibrate.

    Call me anytime. Please.

    — George

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