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Should you give up your landline phone?

Can't live without your cell phone? Well then, maybe you can live without your landline phone. In fact, it may be time to make your cell phone the only phone in your life.

Why pay $20 bucks or more a month in taxes and fees on a landline that you hardly use? Why pay long-distance charges and taxes on your landline when you can call long distance on your cell phone at no extra charge?

And if your under-used landline is loaded up with enhanced services such as call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding and three-way calling, you'll save even more.

Ready to cut the cord?
While it's clear that snipping your landline could save you some serious cash, it's not for everyone.

Before you cut the cord, make sure going wireless fits your lifestyle. It frequently works great for college students and mobile, young professionals.

"They tend to be more nomadic. They change addresses pretty frequently. They live in group situations," says Linda Barrabee, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group. "For them the headache of sharing a landline doesn't make sense."

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And that's why 12 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 have abandoned landlines altogether. And another 28 percent plan to do so in the next five years, according to the Yankee Group.

Frequent business travelers may want to abandon their landlines, as well. They're not home much and they already take their cell phones everywhere they go.

"If you travel a lot and you want to be reached wherever you are, that's another reason to use your cellular phone as your primary phone," says Sam Simon, chairman of the Telecommunications Research and Action Center.

Cell-phone-savvy empty nesters may want to make the leap to wireless, as well. The kids are gone. They work long hours and their landlines are gathering dust, anyway. Why keep paying for it?

Younger and growing families may have a tougher time abandoning their landlines. If your family talks two hours or more each day on the phone, you'll probably want to hang on to your landline. A landline makes a lot of sense if multiple members of your family are making a whole bunch of local calls.

"With a cell phone, you'd have to get a new phone for each person and a new number for each person," says Alan Keiter, president of MyRatePlan.com. "With a landline you're essentially paying a fixed cost for unlimited usage."

A landline makes it possible for more than one person to get on the phone at the same time -- another plus for big families.

And if you, all by yourself, talk for two hours or more every day you may want to hang on to your landline.

"Heavy, heavy users will want to keep the landline," Simon says. "If you're on the phone a couple hours a day, it just makes sense."

Think cutting the cord may be right for you? Before you abandon your landline completely, consider the downsides of going wireless with all your phone calls.

Cell phones aren't nearly as reliable as landlines. When was the last time you picked up your landline and were unable to make a call?

"There's no question it's not as reliable," Keiter says. "A lot of things can affect cell phones, from weather to where you are in a building."

Reception troubles, static and dropped calls are common problems with wireless phones. These little headaches are possible at any time.

Here are six other things to consider before you snip your landline:

  • Can you rely on your cell phone Is the reception sketchy or crystal-clear? "The most important thing is, does your cell phone work in every room in your house," Simon says. "If you need to reach 911, you should be able to do it in every room." In addition, your cell phone may not work if the power goes out, while a simple landline phone will.
  • How much do you use your landline? Do you talk on the phone a few minutes a week or a couple of hours each day? The less you use your landline, the easier it will be to give it up.
  • How good is your cell phone plan? Could you transfer all your personal calls to your wireless phone without going over your airtime for the month? Not sure? Double-check your calling plan.
  • Keep in mind if you do go over your airtime, it won't be cheap. You could end up paying 40 cents to 45 cents a minute for your calls. For tips on finding a cell phone plan that meets all your calling needs, check out this article from Bankrate.com.
  • How many people use your landline? Would cutting your landline mean buying cell phones for each member of your family? Can you afford that? The bigger your family, the more likely you are to hang on to your landline.
  • Do you use a landline to connect to the Internet? If you have a second landline strictly for your Internet connection, you may want to snip it. You could use your cell phone for local and long distance calls and keep a cheap, barebones landline for your Internet connection. Hanging on to your solo landline solely for the Internet connection? Be sure to weigh the costs of other Internet options, such as cable modems. With a cable modem youíll get high-speed Internet via cable TV lines. And you donít need to subscribe to cable TV to be eligible for cable Internet service.

Single folks sharing a landline with a roommate or two may want to consider cutting the cord. You'll have more privacy taking calls on your cell phone. And you'll avoid arguments over who should pay for a hefty landline bill.

Be sure to weigh all the costs of going wireless and think long and hard about your calling needs before snipping your landline.

Looking for ways to lower your phone bills without severing the landline in your home? Consider these tips:

Pare down your landline. Many local phone companies charge extra for enhanced services such as call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding and three-way calling. Cancel all services you don't use.

"Get a very basic wireline that has no frills on it," Simon says.

Lower your long distance costs. If you've been with the same company and the same calling plan for years and years, you're probably paying too much for the long-distance service on your landline. Just a few minutes of shopping can save you money.

Web sites such as MyRatePlan.com, Telebright.com and SaveOnPhones.com have search engines that make it easy to compare long-distance offers between companies. Be sure to shop carefully. For questions about a particular long-distance plan, contact the carrier directly.

If your long-distance phone calls are few and far between, you may want to drop your long-distance carrier altogether. You can pay for the few calls you make with a prepaid phone card, a dial-around service or even your cell phone if you've got the minutes. And you'll avoid the monthly fees and taxes charged by long-distance carriers.

For tips and strategies on saving money on long distance, check out this Bankrate.com article.

Go wireless in your weekend or vacation home. Before you pass on a landline, check to make sure your cell phone works in your home-away-from-home. Next, take a close look at your calling plan. Will you be paying heavy roaming charges for calls made from your weekend home?

Occasional but pricey cell phone calls may still be cheaper than the cost of installing and maintaining a bare-bones landline. Crunch the numbers.

You may find that getting away from it all means snipping the landline on your vacation home.


-- Posted: Sept. 17, 2003
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See Also
How to get a good deal on a cell phone
Prepaid cellular: Is it for you?
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