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What are the Advantages of Having a Landline?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 16, 2024
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With the advent of cell phones, and their increased penetration into the market, many people have abandoned their landline in order to rely only on their cell phone. Years ago, it was actually predicted that the majority of people get rid of their home phones, leading to a world built almost entirely on cell phones. In practice, this hasn’t actually come to pass, because there remain a number of substantial advantages to having a landline, even for people who have a cell phone to supplement it.

One of the most obvious benefits to a landline is an almost guaranteed service fidelity. While cell phone service has improved drastically in recent years, reception still remains spotty in some areas, including some people’s homes. Moreover, cell phone coverage is sometimes intermittent, so that a house that one day has perfect cell phone reception may not get service at all the next. On a day-to-day level this may occur infrequently enough that it isn’t a huge deal, but when an important business call needs to be made, or a call drops out in the middle of a heart-to-heart with a long-lost friend, a person might find herself wishing for more stability.

Battery life is another factor in considering retaining a landline, even after getting a cell phone. While battery life is getting better on cell phones, it is still quite limited on most when actively talking. For normal conversations, this can be fine, but for wanting to sit around talking to a best friend all night and into the early morning, having the phone drop out from a dead battery can be unacceptable. While many people use cordless phones with their landline, they tend to have better battery life, and this type of phone service always offers the option of using a corded phone.

It also offers a possible advantage over the cell phone in the event of an emergency. While many cell phones include GPS capabilities now, a landline allows the emergency services to immediately locate where the call is originating from. This may only save a few seconds, but in the case of a true emergency, those few seconds can matter immensely.

Many people may also want to appear in a local phone directory, especially if they are running a business from that phone number. While cell phone directories do exist, there is nothing like the localization of yellow pages. Of course, some people like the anonymity of having only an unlisted number, in which case a cell phone may be just as good.

Generally, unlimited long distance packages with a landline are significantly cheaper than unlimited minutes packages with cell phone providers, if they offer them at all. So for people who find themselves going over their monthly minute allowance with their cell phone, a landline might offer a good savings. Of course, it doesn’t allow for the same sort of flexibility as a cell phone, since the user have to be home to talk, but for some people, it can be a perfect solution.

Ultimately, the decision to keep a landline or rely exclusively on a cell phone comes down to a person’s individual circumstances. For someone who lives in an area with good cell reception, who has a phone with a good battery, and who doesn’t talk to extended periods of time, the extra phone may not be necessary. For others, however, it can make a great backup for those times when the cell phone doesn’t work.

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Discussion Comments

By anon326083 — On Mar 20, 2013

A landline is a necessity in many rural areas, but they aren't cheap. AT&T has an "inexpensive" local calls only package that's $41.00. That's not cheap in this economy.

Landlines are still a necessity in business, e.g., the fax machine. Some folks can't afford satellite or are too far from DSL, and thus, still a necessity.

And, to top it off, no one is pulling up or taking down all the copper wire Ma Bell strung across the country, so there's very little infrastructure cost except for the occasional tornado or ice storm to change the landline's usefulness. So, why isn't a landline for local only $20.00 instead of $41?

Communication costs far too much in this country, with costs really not decreasing for folks all over it.

By amypollick — On Nov 26, 2012

@anon305517: Look up the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act online. You can send a Cease and Desist request to all creditors that demands they cease all telephone calls. If you send them a letter, they *have* to stop calling you, according to U.S. federal law. They can send you all the bills in the mail they want to, but they have to stop calling you.

Keep a copy of the letter, and send it registered mail, return receipt requested. Don't make any threats. Just tell them that, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are hereby sending a Cease and Desist request that they stop calling any phone numbers attached to your account. Don't admit to owing the debt (or not). Just send a Cease and Desist letter.

If you get any more calls, then you can sic the Federal Trade Commission on them. Believe it or not, they do take that Act seriously.

By anon305517 — On Nov 26, 2012

Time Warner is now charging a modem rental fee of $4, but you can buy your own - for internet only that is. If you want to keep your landline with them, you'll have to rent their modem.

I only keep a landline to catch the 800 calls, but I can't see paying an extra $4 a month when I could probably save $40 by getting rid of their phone completely. The problem is, those creditors you have still have the right to bother you (and will demand a phone number on file), so you can't even avoid those 800 calls once they get your cell number.

By seag47 — On Oct 27, 2012

Landline service is way more reliable than cell phone service. My cell phone provider has been having major issues lately that have resulted in complete loss of signal for hours at a time. This could be catastrophic in an emergency.

Dropped calls are the worst, too! I'm always afraid that the other person will think I hung up on them when this happens.

I can think of one advantage that cell phones have over landlines, though. Sometimes, when the electricity goes out during a storm, the landline service will go out, as well. However, my cell phone continues to work, so I think it's best to have both.

By Perdido — On Oct 27, 2012

I used to talk on a cordless landline phone a lot as a teenager. The battery did last a long while, but I had to stay within range of the base in order to hear it ring. I figured out that my limit was the tree swing beside the house, because if I went further than that, the cordless phone would fail to ring.

By giddion — On Oct 26, 2012

Many older people keep their landline telephones, because they represent security and familiarity for them. Cell phones may seem a bit foreign and high tech, while landlines have been around for decades.

My grandparents still have their old phone with a rotary dial. Calling anyone with this phone is time consuming, and I usually mess up once or twice and put my finger in the wrong hole. However, they wouldn't have any other type of phone.

By shell4life — On Oct 26, 2012

My parents still use their landline for their internet connection. They live way out in the country where DSL is unavailable, and their only option besides a landline is satellite, but that is incredibly slow. A landline connection isn't fast, but at least they don't have to pay extra for the internet.

If a call comes in while they are connected to the internet, it knocks them offline. This can be a bit frustrating, but it comes with the territory.

Whenever I go to their house and need to get online, I get very impatient with the slow dialup connection. It takes forever to connect, compared to the method I am used to using!

By anon299234 — On Oct 24, 2012

I moved onto my boat in 2002, and have been using only a cell phone since then. Of the arguments above, the most convincing to me is the battery life. I find myself leaving my cell phone in the charger all of the time when it isn't being used.

By jonrss — On Oct 16, 2012

Our family maintains our landline because it is kind of like the contact number for the family. All of us have cell phones, and we all use them a lot, but our landline still rings and it is not always a telemarketer.

The kid's school contacts us, the mechanic will call, basically anything that is not completely personal.

By tigers88 — On Oct 15, 2012

I really can't think of any advantage to having a landline. I know that they are awfully cheap these days, but I have been using a cell phone only for almost 5 years now and it has never been an issue for me.

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