4 Reasons to Have a Landline Phone

Many households are deciding to go without a landline—after all, when each and every person in the house has a cell phone, what’s the point? Turns out there are some good reasons to still have a landline phone, though, so here’s our list of four reasons why you should maintain a landline phone in your home.

  1. Clarity. With landline phones, even ones through your internet or cable TV provider, you will not experience dropped calls or static the way you will with a cell phone. “Can you hear me now?” will not be a question you need to ask.
  2. Cost. A monthly landline bill will cost you a fraction of a monthly cell phone bill, especially with added data costs for today’s smartphones. In addition, cable and internet providers often offer bundle pricing that basically gives you a landline for free. Generally you are also not locked into a costly contract with a landline provider like you are when you purchase a cell phone plan.
  3. Emergency Calls. Because your landline is powered by the copper wiring from the phone company, the battery won’t die. And even when the power’s out you can still make emergency calls on your landline.
  4. Getting a Local Number. Since many people keep the same cell phone number even when moving to another city or state, it’s a good idea to have a local number where you can be reached when applying for jobs and other purposes.

While none of these reasons may be make or break for you, you should at least consider the possibility. After all, it won’t cost you much to give it a try.

911 Funding Affected by Lack of Landlines

We’re approaching almost 50 percent of Americans having completely ditched the landline phone to only use a cell phone. The reasons for that are many: keeping the same number even when moving from state to state, no long distance charges, always having your phone on you, fewer telemarketing calls. But one unforeseen byproduct of people cutting the home phone cord is that 911 services are losing their funding.

More from the Washington Times:

With landlines rapidly disappearing across Kentucky and the country, the old way of paying for 911 communications services has withered, too. That has left cities and counties struggling to maintain old systems and forced them to scramble to pay for upgrades or buy new systems.

“This is sort of a consequence of the structural changes the telecommunications market has gone through over the past 20 years,” said Trey Forgety, director of governmental affairs for the National Emergency Number Association.

The problem is especially bad in Kentucky, where local governments can charge fees on landlines for 911 services but are not allowed to tax cellphones. Fees from cellphones cover about 20 percent of the total cost to operate 911 systems in Kentucky, yet they account for 80 percent of all calls to 911 dispatch centers, according to Joe Barrows, executive director of the Commercial Mobile Radio Service Board, which collects cellphone fees in Kentucky.

Many state governments are collecting tax on cell phones, but because local governments cannot, sometimes that money does not make its way back to the local 911 infrastructure. More on this story as it develops at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.

Skype Translator Now Works with Landline Phones

Skype is one step closer to becoming a universal translator, with its Skype Translator now able to perform real-time spoken word translations when calling moble and landline phones—meaning the receiving caller does not need to be using Skype for the translation to work.

More from PC World:

Why this matters: Prior to this experimental feature rollout, Skype Translator required both people to be using Microsoft’s messaging app. Now, Skype’s looking to remove that dependence by allowing at least one side of the conversation to be Skype-free. That will make Skype real-time translation much easier to use since users don’t need to figure out a special time when both people are on Skype. Instead, one side just makes a regular phone call from Skype on a Windows 10 PC.

Skype translation to landlines and mobiles sounds like a great addition, but we haven’t tested it yet so we can’t say how well the new feature works. Keep in mind that this is still a preview feature so expect some hiccups.

Using the new Skype feature appears fairly straightforward. Just input the phone number of the call recipient, specify which language each party is speaking, then hit the phone icon to connect the call. Skype currently supports nine spoken languages, including Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, and Russian.

The world is becoming more and more connected, and that’s a good thing in this case.

Only 20% of Households Believe Landline Phone is Important

Acccording to a RAND Corporation study, twenty percent of the households in the United States still believe having a landline phone is important. The survey also found that having a cell phone is 3.5 times more important than having a landline.

More from EurekAlert.org:

Study findings suggest about 90 percent of American households have at least one mobile phone, 75 percent have fixed internet service, 58 percent have mobile internet service and 49 percent have fixed telephone service. Mobile telephone service was the most important service for the typical respondent, followed by fixed internet service, mobile internet service and fixed telephone service, although a portion rank fixed telephone first.

Only 2 percent of Americans report purchasing none of these four services, while 93 percent have some form of telephone service and 85 percent have some form of internet service. Of those Americans with telephone service, about 8 percent participate in a reduced-price telephone program, such as the Lifeline program overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.

The study was based on a survey of more than 6,000 adults who participate in the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative internet-based survey panel. (Panel participants who do not have internet service are provided access by RAND.) Participants were asked their preferences regarding landline telephones, mobile telephones, mobile wireless internet, and high-speed or fixed internet.

The fact that nearly half of households have a landline shows that the death of the landline is not going as quickly as many in the business have thought, however. It is not clear how many of those landline customers purchased fixed telephone service as part of a bundle with TV, Internet or other services as many providers offer.

Google Fiber Officially Announces Home Phone Service

Google Fiber, where available, has been making inroads against traditional telecom companies, many of whom offer cable TV, high speed internet, and digital voice home phone services as part of a three-service bundle. Previously, the home phone landline service was not part of Google’s offerings, but now they have officially announced that they are going to provide phone service as part of their bundle as well.

More from the Washington Post:

For $10 a month, Google Fiber customers soon will be able to buy an add-on known as Fiber Phone — a service that, according to a company blog post, appears to mimic much of the functionality of Google Voice. Voicemail on Fiber Phone can be automatically transcribed and sent to your email. You’ll get unlimited domestic calling, as well as international calls at Google Voice’s rates. And you’ll have access to one phone number that can be set up to ring all of your phones — whether landline or mobile.

Google Fiber’s effort to draw in phone customers highlights how the company is becoming more like traditional service providers even as many telecom companies are looking to become more like Internet content firms. Even providers of cellphone service have been shifting their focus away from voice and toward the more lucrative provision of mobile data. Reports this week suggest T-Mobile may soon unveil new phone plan options that eliminate voice service entirely to give you a bigger bucket of data.

Fiber Phone fits within these trends in that it would help customers add some cloud-based functionality to their home phones. But it’s not immediately clear why consumers would pick Fiber Phone over Google Voice. The two services share many of the same features, but Fiber Phone carries a subscription cost and requires an at-home installation that you don’t need with Google Voice. In this respect, Google Voice might be considered a “better” service.

Google Fiber has been very successful in its pilot areas, but has yet to expand to the rest of the United States. It is hard to tell whether this phone addition will help or hurt the service as it looks to expand—currently Google Fiber is only available in one residential community near Stanford University in Palo Alto, along with the Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, UT metro areas, with plans to expand to Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, and Southern California.

Google Fiber Testing Home Phone Service

More than three years ago, Google Fiber launched its pilot program in a number of cities and metropolitan areas, bringing high speed internet and cable TV service to places like Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Now the company is testing out a landline phone service to go along with the already existing services, and complete the competition against cable and internet providers offering “Triple Play” options.

More from Ars Technica:

Adding Fiber Phone requires a service visit from a Google Fiber employee and installation of a new piece of equipment. It sounds like Fiber Phone will wrap in some of the features of the Web- and smartphone-based service Google Voice.

Fiber Phone will feature “a phone number that lives in the cloud,” Google said. “With Fiber Phone, you can use the right phone for your needs, whether it’s your mobile device on the go or your landline at home.” There will also be voicemail transcription, spam filtering, call screening, and do-not-disturb. Customers can get a new number or transfer an existing landline or cell phone number to Fiber Phone.

Google considered offering phone service when it first launched Fiber, but the company decided not to go through with it because phone service faces additional regulations.

As Fiber extends to more cities, it should at the very least help to lower prices among cable TV and internet providers in those areas and a create a more robust competition to help the end consumer.

Landline Phones Can Now Send and Receive Text Messages

It wasn’t long ago that every home had a landline phone. It wasn’t long before that when every landline phone was attached with a cord. But cordless phones have given way to cellular phones, and no many homes do not even have a landline, with residents preferring to use their cell phones. Cable companies bundle landline phone at almost no charge with internet and TV services, so low has the value of landline phone gone.

AT&T is trying to put a little bit of value back into landline home phone service, with its new Android app allowing customers to send and receive text messages via landline phone.

More from Android Police:

The latest official AT&T Android app is essentially just a text message service, but it’s exclusively for those customers who pay extra to be able to send and receive text messages from a landline. And boy, do they pay extra – according to this page, it’s $10 for 100 messages a month, $25 for unlimited, on top of whatever they’re paying for the line in the first place. The app is a virtual message bucket, but it does include some advanced features like scheduled texts, auto-reply, and (apparently) a call function, though it isn’t clear if this is some VOIP or reroute solution that uses the landline number or if the user simply calls using his or her cell phone.

This makes a lot of sense if you’re running a business, especially if your clientele skews young. I know some people on the opposite end of the spectrum from dear old Mamaw who would rather poke themselves in the eye than leave a voicemail, so this pricey add-on would allow business owners to cater to their very specialized communications needs. The app is free, but of course it’s only useful to AT&T landline customers.

Other landline home phone providers have yet to capitalize on this technology. Many will probably wait to see how AT&T’s does before creating similar apps of their own.