Do I Need a Land Line? No…and Neither Do You.

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

do i need a land line

Recently, I asked myself, “Do I really need a land line?” I did all the calculations. I came to the conclusion that it makes no sense to have a telephone land line in my home anymore.

I started thinking about this the other day. I was preparing for an interview I was going to have with Ben Cope for our weekly radio show. I told Ben that guests are supposed to call in on a land line and he told me that he didn’t have one. This came as a shock at first. I’m old school as you know, and the idea of not having a land line never even occurred to me. My wife is old school too. And even if the idea had merit, I had fear of criticism from my wife, so I needed to get all my ducks in a row before I suggested this to her.

Then I started thinking about it…most of the calls I make and receive come from my cell phone. My kids don’t have a land line. I’m sure many of you don’t have one either. What’s my problem?

When I look at the numbers, the case against a land line becomes even more compelling (you have to assume that you’re going to have a cell phone anyway, so it’s a question of having a cell and a land line versus only having a cell).

I called my cell provider, which happens to be T-Mobile, to inquire how I could go without. The cell plan I have costs about $160 per month and it covers four phones and unlimited texting (I love to text my 18-year-old, especially when she’s busy…she gets very annoyed).

We never even get near our minute limit so I figure that I can easily get rid of the land line, make all our calls from cell phones and just save the dough I was spending for the land line.

Of course, while I was on the phone with T-Mobile, I asked how I could save money. They suggested that I sign up for a FAVS plan, which allows me to call five other people without being charged for minutes. Turns out that 60% of the calls most people make are to four or five people. This plan would help cut our minutes even further.

This actually brings up the only reason anyone would keep a land line…security. In a natural disaster, the cell towers and internet may go down, but the land line will likely survive. Is that reason enough to keep a land line?

The last time we had a natural disaster, the cell lines did go out, as did the electricity. But the land lines were overloaded anyway…so nothing worked for a few days.

I figure I can drop my land line and bank a cool $1,000 a year in savings at home.

Am I missing something? Have you pitched your land line? Do you regret it? If you haven’t done so yet, why not? (Neal’s note — Three years later, I still don’t have a land line. I love it because I also don’t have to take messages for anyone anymore. Nice. Next up, I’m going to axe my home protection plans.)

 

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Vail January 7, 2013 at 5:21 PM

No need to fax over a phone line.
We have broadband internet and I simply scan my document and email it to whomever, which I am finding out is usually prefered and most of the time better quality than faxing the old school way.
Dump the landline and save big.
VC

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Pat J. December 27, 2012 at 12:10 PM

i ditched my cell phone because it cost too much. $70 bucks a month? you kidding me?

With AT&T One Rate, I only pay about $10.00 a month. i saved a ton of money!!

ok, bye

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Mike June 27, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Neal,
I think I saw that as a choice with ATT products which is new to me. Use to be you had to have the landline in order to get internet. If I can figure an option for us faxing contracts (just a 2 person office) we might go that route.

We have their slowest DSL service. I guess because we are too far from the switches or something. I think the change would save us about $35/month. Total we are paying $65 or so per month with the landline and internet. The internet is $25 of that $65. I think the Internet only is priced at $30/month.

Happy trails, Mike

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joe June 27, 2012 at 5:09 AM

at&t say that my land line and internet are on the same line so i cant drop my l is this true.and line ..

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Neal Frankle June 27, 2012 at 6:47 AM

I was able to keep the internet and drop the landline…and I have ATT!

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Mike June 25, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Hi,
Dont know if you are monitoring this discussion but if you are what do you use for faxing? We are real estate sales associates and have to fax periodically. We just got a new all in one fax machine but we would like to drop our landline as ATT just raised their prices on us for internet and plan costs.
Happy trails, Mike Foate

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Neal Frankle June 25, 2012 at 8:59 PM

try ifax.com That’s what we use. But for our business we do have a landline because when we tried voip for business it just wasn’t reliable enough.

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Neal September 22, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Great tips Susan D. Never knew you could do anything about bad cell service at home other than complain!~

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Susan D. September 22, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Cell service is very spotty in our area. If you have this problem you can get a signal enhancer from Motorola for about 300 bucks. An intenna is placed on the roof and a small unit inside receives/sends the signal from your phone from there. They really work great!!

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Susan D. September 22, 2009 at 11:54 AM

I have DISH Network, they charge you 5 bucks a month if your receiver is not connected to a landline.

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rebecca September 22, 2009 at 7:38 AM

In the past two months we got rid of our home VOIP service….and are down to just the cell phones. The VOIP service was about $210.00/year AND every month they charged us 6 bucks in tax. We hardly used it, and it echoed pretty bad, so we decided to cancel and just rely on our cell phones. HOWEVER, we do have one phone plugged into our regular landline jack (without paid service to it) and there is a red sign that we put on it that says EMERGENCY PHONE. If we need 911, we can pick it up and call 911 and that call is one of the only calls that will go through on the line. We can also use cell phones to dial 911 and we make sure that info is updated with the cell phone company so they would know where to find us in an emergency. Also, at the same time as the home phone (VOIP) service we canceled TV cable. We had planned to connect the converter boxes and just watch the free channels….that was two months ago and who has time to watch TV? We’re not sure how we used to fit it into our busy schedule! If we really want to watch a particular show, we watch it on the computer at our leisure.

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Neal September 6, 2009 at 9:40 AM

land line update….finally convinced my wife and we are cutting the cord this Friday!

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adam September 5, 2009 at 10:40 AM

tad, can you tell me how you set up the directv without a landline? do you need to have your computer near the tv (our computer is upstairs, tv is downstairs). also, will our dvr work without a landline?

thanks for any help!

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chris July 17, 2009 at 8:50 PM

agreed so true unmatched quality and sound, and it is a good saftey feature. I used to use cell only, now I have a landline and its very good.

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bob July 15, 2009 at 5:45 PM

don’t give the stores your phone number! when they ask for your number, refuse. there’s no reason to give it! i don’t mind when they ask for my zip code, but i’m not giving them my number!

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Jeff July 13, 2009 at 6:44 AM

I haven’t had a land line for a little while now but as I’m moving I’m finding that most of the big companies offer a special package pricing if you get phone, internet and cable with them. I know that there will be taxes on the phone part but it might not be any more money to get the land line. I’m also a leaning towards getting a landline for the 911 aspect but I do think that it’s a shame that we still need them. There should be a better way to track 911 calls from cells. The calls should just go to the 911 of the closest tower that it’s connecting with. Not sure what I’ll do now but I think less and less people I know have land lines.

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Tad July 6, 2009 at 1:31 PM

“our satellite company requires that they be able to dial into the satellite on a monthly basis.”

If you’re talking about DirecTV, this is simply not true. They *say* that you need a landline, but give them the slightest pushback and they’ll give in. I know, I have DTV and I’ve been landline-free for years.

The only thing you lose is the ability to order PPV from the settop box, and that’s only if it’s not connected to the internet.

I can’t say for sure, but the same is probably true for Dish.

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Krys July 6, 2009 at 11:25 AM

I’ve been considering eliminating our land line for a few weeks, and the only reason I can think to keep it is that our satellite company requires that they be able to dial into the satellite on a monthly basis.

I’m not ready to give up our satellite TV yet (too many great shows!), so we’ll be keeping our land line, but eliminating call waiting, caller ID, etc.

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Jeff Tussey July 4, 2009 at 5:34 PM

We got rid of our personal landline a year ago.
Haven’t missed it. We save about 700.00 per year. I do not give my cellphone number out to stores, or put it on any thing so I get no call from telemarketers. If it’s a number I don’t recognize, I let it go to voicemail.Neal you are right in getting rid of your personal landline.

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Neal Frankle July 4, 2009 at 3:07 AM

Anthony….thanks for the tip on ooma…I’ll check it out. You like it better than Magic Jack? Why?

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Anthony July 3, 2009 at 7:33 PM

I dropped my landline early this year and switched to http://www.ooma.com/. It is a VoIP device similar to Vontage or MagicJack. The difference is that there is no monthly subscription. Except for the initial cost of $200+, it is free to make unlimited domestic calls for the lifetime of the device (or the company).

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Tad July 2, 2009 at 5:33 PM

One argument pro-landline – sound quality. The quality of cell phones (when it’s working optimally – not counting dropouts and such) is significantly worse than a landline (assuming a quality landline phone). That’s why they want you to use a landline for radio interview.

One argument pro-cellphone – in the disaster/system overload scenario – always send text messages. They are much more likely to get through a congested network than a voice call.

Re: telemarketers – I have a cell only and I almost never get telemarketing calls. If you do, you must be giving your number to the wrong people.

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Roxy July 2, 2009 at 1:22 PM

I thought it would be practical to get a land line for my new home, but once I got the first bill with all the taxes I decided to get rid of it.

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Neal July 2, 2009 at 11:04 AM

I like it….. I really really like it……

I’m about ready to cut the cord!

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Kevin July 2, 2009 at 8:55 AM

I’ve been using only a cell phone since 2002, when the phone company said I would have to pay multiple hundreds of dollars to activate the landline in a new apartment. It has worked well. As others have mentioned, on a cell phone 911 calls may need to be routed and faxes are impossible. Those situations come up so rarely that they aren’t a significant problem.

Another benefit to cell phones is that they aren’t linked to your physical residence, which means one less thing that needs to be rearranged when you move.

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chuck wintner July 2, 2009 at 8:04 AM

I use a land line because I like to hear the person on the other end, and I like the other person to hear me. I do not like hearing road sounds, background noises, having words interrupted, and calls dropped in mid conversation. I also do not like being interrupted by calls while I’m doing something else. I got rid of my cell phone 2 years ago and I’m very glad I did.

There’s nothing more annoying than to be in the middle of a live conversation with someone, when suddenly their cell phone rings, interrupting your visit. It makes me feel like they are not really with me, but 1/2 the time on alert for possible interruptions, even if they just look at their phone to see who is calling.

Cell phones promote rudeness, narcissism, and disruption. They are symptomatic of the intrusion of technology into our personal lives, and destruction of intimacy. A married couple I know are in the midst of a divorce because each was so attached to their cell phones (i.e., their “personal lives”) that they lost intimacy with each other after 30 years of marriage.

Cell phones are also dangerous. Despite law changes, people still use them while driving, they walk across parking lots oblivious to their environment, and they think they can talk to someone while paying 1/2 attention to whatever else they’re doing, and 1/2 attention to their conversation.

On a land line, you talk on the phone. You picture the person on the other end. You actually converse with them, and the call can actually be focused and intimate. You don’t do it while doing 10 other things. You rarely get interrupted or cut off.

Ban the cell phone. Restore land lines.

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Gary Seidler July 2, 2009 at 6:59 AM

And, then there’s the fellow (ME) that loses his cell phone periodically… at these times, land-line is required, for emegencies.

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Neal July 2, 2009 at 5:33 AM

These are all great comments. Seems like there is no argument on the “cost” side….it’s a question of convenience and security…..

Great insights and help. Thanks….

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Nancy from Mass July 2, 2009 at 5:03 AM

My niece lived in a small town in CT a few years ago and only used her cell phone. Her daughter had a grand mal seizure and when my niece called 911, they had to ask where she was located and then switch her to the nearest 911 office before she could state her emergency. It took longer for the ambulance to arrive because of this. the emt’s told her they hate it when people dont have land lines because of that reason alone. My grand-niece is okay but my niece now has a land phone with the cheapest possible plan. (I think it only costs her like $10/month). she still uses her cell for long distance, etc but feels safer should anything ever happen again.
I have a land line because my cell plan is p-a-y-g and my phone is tied into my cable/internet plan. (I acually save around 60/month by doing this). There are arguments for both sides of this discussion, as long as your area can trace your cell number, good, but if they can’t, sometimes its worth paying a few bucks for piece of mind.

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Wojciech @ Fiscal Fizzle July 2, 2009 at 3:42 AM

I use Vonage for my landline, so it’s a bit less expensive than a traditional company, but I’ve considered ditching it nonetheless.

However, when I recently looked at my call log, I reconsidered – I get at least 10 calls a day from telemarketers on this line, because that’s always the number we give to stores, credit cards, etc.

They rarely call after 7 or 8 when I get home, so I’ve never realized the sheer volume of calls.

If I cancel my landline, all of those aforementioned people will be getting my cell phone number – and that is something I would not enjoy.

So I’d rather pay my $15 a month and keep my call volume and sanity just a little lighter. :)

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Foresteen January 9, 2010 at 6:36 PM

That’s exactly why I keep my land line. Besides, I don’t like putting my phone on the internet when I am asked form my phone number.

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Ben Cope July 2, 2009 at 4:38 AM

As for automatic address retrieval for a 9-1-1 emergency, many cell phone companies now allow you to “link” your cell phone to a physical home address for just that purpose. And when it comes to sending/receiving faxes, there are many “fax by email” services available that are far less expensive than paying the monthly charge for a landline.

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ObliviousInvestor July 2, 2009 at 3:36 AM

Cell + Skype = All we use. :)

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Judy McAdoo July 2, 2009 at 3:01 AM

The only additional values of a landline are 1: automatic address retrieval for a 9-1-1 emergency. Your cell 9-1-1 goes to a different emergency response center (Highway Patrol or so I’m told, could be wrong on this) and your address does not appear as you can use your cell from anywhere and 2: inability to receive/send faxes from home w/o a landline. Maybe there is a way to use your cell line for faxes but I don’t know how. Maybe with BlackJack you can fax.

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