Is There a Reason To Hang On To Your Landline?

Landlines are expensive and most of us are using our cell phones as our primary means of making and receiving calls. So, why are so many people still hanging onto their corded phones?

Well, more and more people aren’t. In fact, a new study shows that almost 30% of U.S. families have gotten rid of their landlines, up from 25% last year and 10% in 2005, and the rate at which people are cutting the cord is increasing. As Business Insider points out, the losers in this transition are also the winners, as the largest telcos — AT&T and Verizon — are also the largest wireless providers.

But, there are still a few important reasons why you might want to keep your landline.

When dialing 911 on a cell phone, where the call is routed varies by state, but it often goes to a less-vital regional emergency responder, such as the highway patrol. Further, when a 911 call originates from a cell phone, the operator only has a general idea of where the call is originating from. On the other hand, when you call 911 from a landline, the call typically goes to local emergency response, typically fire, and the address you’re calling from comes up for the operator immediately. This saves vital seconds in an emergency, as the call will not have to be routed around as much and less information needs to be communicated over the phone. The quicker that a fire engine or ambulance is dispatched, the more likely it is that the home won’t burn down or that the life will be saved.

Additionally, landlines may be the best method of communication during a larger disaster. Typically, networks go down in a disaster, as they get flooded with people trying to call each other. The potential is for this to happen with both landlines and cellular networks — as it did during events like 9/11 — because it occurs when the volume of calls exceeds capacity. As more and more people get rid of their landlines, they will become a more reliable means of getting through to somebody in an emergency. It should be noted that landlines do work in power outages, provided the phone itself does not require power, and will keep working even after all the cell phone batteries have died (it can take days to restore power after a major storm or earthquake). Also, while it is true that the cellular providers have been dramatically increasing the capacities and abilities of their networks in the past couple years, this has been matched or exceeded by an increase in the use of those networks as people rely on their cell phones for more of their calls and internet use.

Disasters and emergencies don’t happen very often, and it can be easy to overlook benefits that one hopes they will never need. Still, if you can afford a landline, it is probably better to be covered than to one day, at the worst possible moment, regret cancelling it.

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