End of the landline as we know it

Posted on by Mike Evans

The landline, long considered an essential part of civilisation, is on the way out. Fifty years ago only relatively wealthy, mainly professional families had a telephone. Working-class families relied on the red "telephone box"  or on the one neighbour in the street who possessed the coveted phone. It was seen as a status symbol. By 1995 the landline was almost universal. It was the the mobile phone that had become the status symbol and was the preserve of the relatively rich.

Now mobile phones can be cheaper than landlines and have become the new communications norm. They do a lot more than fixed, wired telephones―in particular, they do texting and, in the case of newer smartphones, video chat and all sorts of smart tricks. For international calls, VOIP services have almost completely supplanted the long-distance phone call. 

Where does this leave the landline? It has become something of a dumbo. Mine seldom rings these days since most of my friends and contacts know that I can be reached more reliably on my mobile. And I use the mobile for most calls simply because it is more convenient with its link to my Apple iCloud contacts book. 

There are only three factors propping up the landline in the UK. First is that a majority of households get their broadband signal over the copper feed; second is the worry that the emergency services are less able to pinpoint your location accurately from a mobile as opposed to a landline. Third, something which few people think about, is the effect on credit status. Ownership of a landline is still one of the criteria which counts towards the credit count. The inference is that people who cannot afford a landline are less credit worthy; but this is surely nonsense these days. 

I could definitely live without a fixed-line telephone and I am seriously considering giving it a go. It isn't about saving the £15 or so it costs every month, it is more the acceptance that the landline has had its day and it is time to move on.

∞ Permalink