Why It’s Time to Finally Get Rid of Your Landline

It’s the story of technology: What is essential today may be consigned to oblivion tomorrow. (Think Betamax recorders, pagers...) Will home phones soon meet that fate?

  • Sarah J. Robbins

Nearly 40 percent of American households are now wireless-only, a 20 percent increase from 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks cellphone use for data-collection purposes. Should you join their ranks? Here are three reasons why you should.

It’s costly. If you’re among the 50 percent of households that have both a landline and cell phones, you’re spending extra money. In 2012 the average household shelled out about $359 on landline service, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s on top of the $862 spent annually on wireless service.

You’ll foil telemarketers. You may have noticed that your cell phone is largely spared robocalls. Why? It’s illegal for companies to autodial wireless numbers if you haven’t given them permission to.

During a weather emergency, it’s better to rely on your cell. Since phone companies power their own copper lines, you may think that you can place calls on a home phone when the electricity goes out. But that’s not necessarily true. In 2012 Superstorm Sandy left 58 percent of customers in the three hardest-hit states without home-phone service, at least briefly, according to a Consumer Reports survey. But only 33 percent of customers lost cell service. What’s more, if your home phone is connected to the Internet via Voice over Internet Protocol (VolP) technology, it may go down if your electricity does. Finally, if you’re in a blackout, you can make a homephone call only with a corded model or a cordless phone with a backup battery charger. And good luck finding a corded model. Nowadays, Gikas notes, they’re buried in the back of the store, “next to the typewriter ribbons.”