Why a landline at home is a good idea, even in 2024

Maybe you shouldn't laugh at your friends who still have old landlines. That's because a power outage that hit US telecommunications company AT&T this week reminds us why they're useful.

How to use the landline phone PHOTO archive The Truth

On Thursday morning, February 22, AT&T users in many major cities across the United States found themselves without network service on their cellphones. The major blackout appears to have lasted more than 12 hours, leaving many people without any connection to the modern world.

Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, we're taking steps to ensure our customers don't experience this again in the future“, the company said in a statement.

AT&T also assured that the outage was not the result of a cyber attack, and blamed “application and running a wrong process used while expanding the network“.

But the blackout has reminded people why it's dangerous to rely solely on mobile phones and to reconsider the usefulness of a landline.

Landlines are the ones that connect via special cables in our homes. Landlines connect to each other through a global communications network that has been built over more than a century. But as cell phones became available and affordable, many people chose to ditch landlines altogether.

A 2022 survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about 29% of US adults lived in a home with a landline, up from more than 90% in 2004.

The massive shift occurred around 2015, when smartphone sales entered a boom period that reshaped the tech industry and helped turn Apple into one of the world's most valuable companies.

What makes landlines more reliable

Landlines run on a separate infrastructure built from copper phone lines that are cheap and fairly reliable. They also do not have the disadvantages of cellular networks, such as dropped calls, poor and distorted quality, or poor reception.

A big reason some keep landlines is that they tend to work even during a power outage, which is a big plus for people whose jobs involve emergency services, business or healthcare.

Also, analog fax machines are built around landline telephone systems, which means that most hospitals and doctor's offices, as well as law and political offices, must maintain a working landline telephone connection.

Disadvantages of landlines

The US Federal Communications Commission has stopped requiring telephone companies to provide landline service (called Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS) across the country. As a result, more and more homes and offices are being built with Ethernet jacks instead of phone jacks.

Also, fixed telephone connections are not cheap. In the US, CNET notes that AT&T's traditional landline plan starts at $48 a month, and for internet you have to use the same company. CenturyLink is cheaper, starting at $30 a month, and Spectrum charges at least $20 a month.

And not all landlines use copper phone lines. More and more companies are basing their phone systems on their Internet connections, a service called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. AllConnect currently tracks only three service providers that offer old-style landlines: CenturyLink, Comcast Xfinity and Cox.

What you can do with a landline

If you have a landline but don't use it, then you just spend money every month to pay the subscription. But there are some ways to make it more useful.

Google Voice is a popular option that offers a new phone number that acts as a sort of command center. Whenever people call, Google Voice calls every phone it's connected to, whether it's a home landline, a cell phone, a work phone, or whatever.

There are other such services, including Zoom and RingCentral, if you don't like working with Google.

A landline can also connect with home security systems and medical alert sensors to ensure that if you are in an emergency, help will be there as soon as possible.

If you're not eligible for a landline, or don't like the service they offer, you have several options from satellite providers. Companies like HughesNet and SpaceX can support VoIP on their internet connections.

Phone makers like Apple are gradually starting to build satellite messaging into their devices. The iPhone 14, which debuted in 2022, has a feature called Emergency SOS, which can connect to a satellite to send location data to friends or an emergency text to authorities.

In Romania, there are still approximately two million cable subscribers, but their number is decreasing year by year, according to ProTV.

Conversations are on average 7 minutes per month, compared to the mobile phone where we lose around 5 hours per month.

In 2021, for example, the number of landline subscribers decreased by 16% compared to 2020.

The companies that also provide landline services are Orange Romania, RCS & RDS and UPC Romania.