If I Have a Cell Phone, do I Need a Landline?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

As unbelievable as it may sound to the Bluetooth®/earbud generation, there was a time when every telephone service subscriber needed a landline. With the rise of mobile communications such as wireless PDAs and cell phones, however, the question of whether or not you need a landline does become a consideration. The answer lies primarily on your personal and professional needs and preferred lifestyle. Some people may still need one to act as a computer or fax machine modem, while others could easily run their entire lives from their cell phones.

Businesses are one of the few places that still have landlines.
Businesses are one of the few places that still have landlines.

One consideration is the overall cost of maintaining both a landline and a cell phone. Some cellular phone service providers are associated with traditional phone companies, but a landline bill and a cell phone bill are generally two separate contracts, each with their own terms of service. You may not need a landline if you use your cell phone almost exclusively and you can hold off on making long distance phone calls until the rates are lower. If you tend to hold long phone conversations during the day, however, you may still want a landline to avoid burning off too many "anytime" minutes on your cell phone.

Eliminating a landline will reduce monthly telephone expenses.
Eliminating a landline will reduce monthly telephone expenses.

If you have a number of electronic devices such as an Internet-ready computer, fax machine or business credit card reader, you'll need a landline to handle them. A laptop computer might be adapted for wireless service, but some personal PCs connect to the Internet through the landline. There are online fax services available, but many people still prefer to use the traditional method of sending documents over a reliable traditional phone line. If you need a stable communication system for a home business, it may be best to have a landline in addition to your cell phone service.

It's possible for a cell phone battery to be drained when it's needed to call 911 in an emergency.
It's possible for a cell phone battery to be drained when it's needed to call 911 in an emergency.

If you do not have a need for modems or interactive credit card readers, then you might not even need a landline to get through an average day. The advantage of not being tied down to a traditional landline is definitely appealing to many cell phone customers. If you spend most of your time away from your office or home, a cell phone may indeed eliminate the need for a landline completely. If there are others who depend on reliable telephone service, however, you may still want a landline to accommodate their needs. An elderly parent may need the services of a medical hotline, for instance, or someone may need to reach a phone in order to call 911. Cell phones may be difficult to locate in an emergency, and there is always the possibility the batteries may be too drained to place an emergency call.

Whether a person needs a landline relies mainly on his or her personal and professional needs and lifestyle.
Whether a person needs a landline relies mainly on his or her personal and professional needs and lifestyle.

If your personal and professional needs are completely met by a reliable and cost-efficient cell phone plan, then there is probably no need to have a landline too. It is possible, however, to maintain a basic landline account for emergency use and use your cell phone as your primary contact number. Some people function very well with only cell phone service, while others view their traditional telephone service as a reliable back-up when their cell phone is not readily available.

Reliable and cost-efficient cell phone service may eliminate the need for a landline.
Reliable and cost-efficient cell phone service may eliminate the need for a landline.
Some people still need a landline to operate a fax machine.
Some people still need a landline to operate a fax machine.
Elderly individuals may find a landline more reliable than a cell phone, in case of an emergency.
Elderly individuals may find a landline more reliable than a cell phone, in case of an emergency.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular EasyTechJunkie contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


I have a cell phone and a landline. My landline usage far exceeds that of my cell phone.


I'd feel better about dropping my landline if the cellphone companies would lower their rates considerably. I don't use my cellphone nearly enough to justify paying a really high bill every month. I like being able to check my email account and access the Internet while I'm in a waiting room or laundromat, but I don't think those features are worth what I have to pay for them. If cities start installing free hotspots, I'd probably get rid of my landline entirely. But I remember when a hardwired landline was all we had in the house, and we planned our day around any important phone call that might happen.


I think that nowadays it is not necessary to have a landline if you have a cell phone. You can do all the stuff with your cell phone which can be done by land lines, and there are even more things you can do by cell phone.


I only have a landline and cannot afford to pay a cell phone bill over $100/month. My landline costs nowhere near that amount! We have lived without this particular technology for this long, I don't foresee us needing to rely on it in the near future, either. There is not one conversation that needs to be had that can't wait until someone gets home, for instance my husband, from work.

Not to mention, I'm disabled. I don't need a cell phone as I'm at home all the time. I cannot go out by myself. I rely on my husband. We are together when we go out, so there is not a need for a cell phone. Besides, how much do you really need to talk to your spouse? I think the times they are home are adequate!

As for the kids, mine are grown and they do rely on cell phones, but they don't have a home base. They are in college, living with different friends here and there, etc. They are kids, still. Of course they will have cell phones. We older parents don't need them like the kids do today.

What about senior citizens who cannot afford the added expense? I am not going to get into the discussion they should buy the prepaid cell plans, either, because it's another added monthly expense for them! No! Not needed!

The other thing - my Internet Service Provider’s equipment hooks into the phone line! It is not required you have phone service in order to hook into the phone line, but one is needed! I have the latest and greatest with Comcast/Infinity, so the technology is not off on this one. The main box is hooked into the landline! Is the government going to make this company change the way it operates --the entire company with its millions of subscribers? I don't think so! I also believe they will have something to say about this.

What about the satellite TV companies? They require you have a phone line to hook into so you can buy more services, such as movies, etc., from them. Again, phone service is not needed, but the phone line is required!

How many times does the government threaten to do things and it never happens? A lot! I don't see this happening at all. Others have also brought up good points about the 911 services and emergency services depending upon landlines, and their customers depending on landlines, too!

What about all of the utility poles that are scattered across this country? These are phone and electricity lines that are intertwined! Are the electric companies and the phone companies going to put all of these underground when they swap out the lines? This is too costly a proposal! Yes, even the latest and greatest subdivisions have utility poles -- maybe not inside of them (and their lines are buried) but outside of them they are littered around! I look out my window, and we have a series of a long line of poles. I can just imagine how much that is going to cost to replace!

I'm not worried about this at all. It can't possibly be done.


If you only have a cell phone and you are afraid of a power outage, why not invest in a solar power charger? Great if you are traveling, too.


Cell phones can be easily tapped into and monitored or listened to by police or any other law enforcement agency. Most landlines aren't monitored, especially if they are the old corded phones. They have to get a court order to install a tap when you're not at your residence in order to listen to phone conversations via a landline corded phone. So if you value your privacy, landlines are the way to go.


Landlines are much safer than cell phones. In emergencies, landlines are far more reliable than cell phones. But actually, having both is the best thing if you can afford it. Cell phones are great to have handy in the car when traveling in case anything car trouble or accidents should occur.


Cordless phones need power to work. Only simple corded phones (like the one in a hotel washroom or as long as there is no display mostly) do not need to recharge.

I need a landline because I don't have good cell phone coverage in my home area and the number is from my father, so I keep it to keep track of my relatives.


I have a land line because I actually use phones for talking. The "cell phone only" crowd doesn't, for the most part. They tend to use their phones for texting and browsing mobile web sites and sending photos.

If you actually use the phone to talk, cell phones are annoying as hell. I use my landline to call my friend in PA who uses only his cell phone. Calls are always getting dropped when I talk to him, but this goes double when I call him on my cell phone.


Better question is: Do you want a landline?


Do some research. Wake up. Get rid of your cell phone and keep your land line if you value living to a healthy old age. It can take up to 30 years for the health effects to manifest. So, oh well, you'll be retiring around then and worthless, anyway.


I agree with both sides. Having a land line is great in an emergency and having a cell is more practical. The only item I have also is a battery charger (AA) for my cell phone in case we lose power, phone, etc. in a hurricane here in Florida.

I bought my little battery phone charger for $9.


First and most important, a landline is the safest way of communication. No harmful rays and no problem of brain cancer and things like that.

Secondly, landlines, mainly wired land-lines use no tower or satellite. So there is no worry for things like the satellite/operator is down or Signal problem, which includes operate/line busyness.

Thirdly, landlines (not cordless but wired), work even when the power is out. But cellphones will work only until you have charged them and when the charge is drained out, you are drained! So both are useful.


Many homes in United States have only wireless phone. As much as one quarter of households, and in some states even higher than that, have only wireless phones, and do not own a landline telephone.


my landline went off when power is out. How reliable is a landline when the power is out or should there be an earthquake? I was thinking to have an emergency cell phone, $100 prepaid and is good for one year and have it charged at all times to replace the landline, and then $30 prepaid for 1500 min monthly, and then just pay for wireless.


Personally, I think if you have a dependable cell phone and an affordable one, it's silly to keep paying for a landline - it's wasted money.

I did actually have a landline for over a year when I moved out of my mom's place, but once I found a cell phone provider with the right price and coverage, I totally dropped it. I actually ended up trying out and really liking a Walmart sold prepaid brand called Straight Talk and the price was right for unlimited service ($45 for the month). I knew I could save on both the cell phone and my home line - a combined savings of $120 for me.

If you find a company with the right price, you need to also worry about the service and I can say honestly that ST is as dependable as any hardline - it's Verizon powered.


There are still many places where cell phone coverage is terrible. I live eight miles from town and have no reception because I am in a little valley. Same goes for tv reception.

Have you ever been to Upstate Michigan? I swear once you pass the Mackinac Bridge the reception goes from bad to worse the further north and west you travel.

So for many of us, landlines are a necessity. And my phone always works! Even when the power was out for a week the phone company put a generator on their side. No power, but phone service.


Can you use a fax with a cell phone? Yes, you can! It requires either buying or building a cell phone 2.5 mm ep plugged adapter to the T46 telco connector on the FAX machine.

I designed one in a simple small box with about a half dozen components from Radio Shack and it works just fine on the Verizon network! Send or receive, no problem. So yes, it's doable! regards, R.E. Adams, Ph.D, physicist.


To the person who has always kept a landline phone: You can always use your CLA (cigarette lighter adapter) to charge the cell phone.


I am trying to cut costs and have been considering giving up the landline. My concern is the battery life of the cell phone and the ability to get a signal. Honestly, I do not use either much, however I would like friends and family to be able to get a hold of me. I like the cell phone for an emergency or if one of my kids needs to get picked up early. I like the landline because it is easier to hear it ring and seems more reliable. -Diane


Despite what people say, landlines are much more reliable. People who ditch them are often cell phone addicts who don't know how to live without them.

So let me rephrase the question "Do we really need cell phones?" Also, many independent scientists and brain surgeons are doing studies on the effects of radio waves from wireless devices, and many of them are turning out to show a link between heavy cell use and brain cancer. It's heavily understudied in the US, but look at how European governments are already issuing warnings advising people to minimize their usage. Just do a little research -- you'll be surprised at what you find.

Also, bear in mind that 40 years ago, people dismissed cigarettes as being cancer causing, and now look at the effects 40 years later.

Cell phone tumors are already thought to have a cancer link, but imagine 20 years from now if people have suffered heavy use of them for three decades.


I also would love to get rid of my landline, if only I could hook-up my cell phone and fax machine together. You'd think it would be a simple matter of a cable to connect them.


I want to disconnect my landline and use my cell phone with my old fashioned fax machine. My job requires receipts and other items that could be scanned, but with difficulty. Can this be done with a cell phone instead of a landline?


I have always kept my hard wired (wire to the wall) landline phone. If power is out for any length of time you can't recharge that cell phone, and your home cordless phone won't work either!

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