The Consumerist’s Chris Walters commented about a Slate article in which they found that landlines were now considered a luxury expense. With rising costs in everything else, land-lines were becoming useless and cut from the monthly budget. In the Slate article, writer Daniel Gross pinged the under-30 crowd at the offices of Slate and Newsweek and discovered that very few had home phones at all. Those who did used Skype.
Since college, I’ve never had a land-line telephone. In fact, I still have the 412 Pittsburgh cell phone number I had when I was in college. Number portability enabled me to migrate that number across four carriers (six if you count the AT&T Wireless to Cingular to AT&T Wireless merger-acquisition-spin-off merry-go-round) in five years. Landlines are dinosaurs on a mammalian planet. I don’t know how much a land-line costs nowadays but even the ubiquitous “triple play for $100” seems like you’re overpaying for the telephone.
However, I can think of three situations where you’d want (or be forced to have) a land-line:
Children. While your cell phone does get 911 service, hitting 9-1-1 and then the green Send or green phone button is one button more than the traditional land-line. This is, of course, worst case scenario and not particularly strong justification for paying $20/month but it’s certainly a consideration for some parents. This is also only a consideration for very young children, the age at which they shouldn’t and wouldn’t be left home alone anyway, so you’re really talking about scenarios in which the parents are incapacitated. Either way, I know that some parents have justified having a land-line for this very reason.
Security systems. Most security systems need a telephone line if you want it to communicate with the central station. Some newer systems can take advantage of wireless networks but most still rely on the old land-line. A land-line is one of the hidden costs of getting a security system, if you’re sold on or required to have central monitoring.
DSL. DSL is a digital subscriber line and it’s internet service across the phone system. Unless your provider offers naked DSL or dryloop DSL, you’ll be required to have phone service to get DSL.
Outside of those three cases, I don’t see the point of a land-line. Anyone have a land-line anymore?