Landline: Is it time to bury that clunky old phone?

Posted on by Mike Evans

These days I seldom use the landline phone at my home and, perhaps in sympathy, it seldom rings to disturb my peace and quiet. Twenty years ago I had persuaded myself I needed four lines: Two for voice, one for the fax machine (what's that?) and one for the dial-up modem. This was the last word in modernity in 1995. It turned out to be the apogee of the landline and things have been downhill ever since.  It all happened without much real intent.

First they came for the dial-up modem and I was glad not to speak out. Then they came for the fax machine. They they took away one of the voice lines and I am left with just one. I don't know why I still keep it, especially since I have cable broadband.

A survey back in October by Relish, a purveyor of 4G broadband (a vested interest, of course) attempted to prove that the landline is indeed a thing of the past. According to the research, one in four Britons cannot remember their home number even when offered a £50 recollection fee. And only one in five use their phone to make calls. Half of all subscribers use their landline only for broadband which, in many areas, is the only option. 

None of this is surprising. I feel my home phone is on borrowed time. It is all the more redundant since I installed Yosemite and OS 8.x with Continuity. I can now make or answer calls from my Mac while working; there's no need to pick up the iPhone at all. Since I have an unlimited call data plan there is no financial disadvantage to using the cellular network. It is all very convenient, particularly always being able to use Contacts to generate a call. You can also pick up the call in mid conversation, walk out of the house and the cellular network keeps the call live. Going back to the standard phone and tapping in the numbers feels so old fashioned and is a waste of time. I know you can store numbers, but it just isn't the same. 

So what's stopping me from cancelling my £20-a-month British Telecom line? I really don't know. I suppose it is just a habit to keep it, but the habit is wearing a bit thin. I am by no means sure the landline will survive in my house for another year. If I were to move in the future I am fairly certain I would not have a landline installed. 

Incidentally, the Relish deal (if it ever goes nationwide because at the moment it seems to be restricted to the most central of central London) looks quite attractive: A 4G-powered broadband modem from just £20 a month. This could be a real alternative for the 50 percent of households who keep a landline only for broadband. 



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