| Alternatives to the Home Phone Line:
Using your cellular phone
at home is the
simplest way to cut the
cord as long as you
have reliable coverage.
You only pay for
one phone for calls both
in and away from
home, and normally you
can make free Long
Distance calls from almost
number stays with you,
and you can also use
cellular as your connection
to the Internet.
||WIRELESS HOME PHONE SYSTEM:
Several cellular carriers now offer a device
specifically designed to make your wired
phones work like "normal" home
phones but using a cellular connection. In
most cases, they provide a unit that sits
on a table or wall and the calls are completed
by a wireless connection to the nearest cell
site. In most cases you can plug in all of
your existing phones, both cordless and corded.
You pay a monthly fee and, like a cellular
phone, all the popular calling features are
included like Unlimited Calls, both Local
and Long Distance, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding
and Voice Mail. This is not a new concept
but these units are now being offered by
the cellular carriers themselves with quite
reasonable rates...some as low as $15 per
month. The Steps for Switching are the same as cellular.
We have links to these specific Wireless Home Phones.
You get software and/or hardware
provider and attach it to your
connection. In most cases you
have a wired
connection and lose the portability
You can make free calls to people
and discount calls to any normal
Some allow a wireless connection
to use a
cordless phone around the house,
you need to plug the phone into
or modem. Broadband from your
cable TV company
provides both the ability to
access a broadband
supplier and a "normal"
Some online services offer a
me" service that allows
you to program
what incoming calls go to what
phone at what
||RE-DEFINE YOUR WIRELINE:
Don't overlook how versatile
your old landline
can be. While still keeping the
you can switch to an independent
that could provide all your desired
features at a better price. You
a second line in favor of an
online Fax service. Custom Ringing enables the same line to
serve multiple purposes including your fax.
You can add an inexpensive feature like "Call
Forwarding if Busy or No Answer" for
$1 or less per month, and use all the features
of your cellular phone. Do the kids have
their own line? You can control their phone
use with wireless almost as easily. Or the
reverse might help: a dedicated fax line
can also be the backup for your Alternative
||WIRES JUST MIGHT NOT BE AVAILABLE:
In some areas of the country, storms, disasters
or the high cost of construction or replacement
have made wired telephone services unavailable.
Read about what happened to the wired networks
after Hurricane Sandy.
ADD A 'CELL SITE' TO YOUR HOME!
- Make Sure Your Cellular Coverage is Good.
It's preferable to be on your
network without roaming and
check every room
of your house for coverage,
basement. Don't just assume your wireless phone works well at home,
ask your friends if they can hear you well
on all calls. If not, you should find a carrier that works better with Cellular Carrier Reviews. Barring that, you may want to consider the
Broadband Option, or Add a Cell Site to Your Home.
- Have a Backup.
Have a second cellular phone
in the house.
A cheap backup is a prepaid phone. Make sure you have an extra battery and
charger, both can be notoriously unreliable.
- Check Your Speed.
If you plan to use a cellular
phone as your
'broadband' connection. make
sure the network
offers high enough bandwidth
for your usage.
- Do The Math.
Make sure your changes make
Consider increased wireless
costs and the
loss of any 'bundled' discounts.
Don't be fooled by short-term promotions.
Project your costs out a year or two to make
sure the promotional price makes the regular
price you pay later, acceptable.
- Consider an Unlimited Cellular Plan.
Unless your usage is fairly
you never know when you'll
face a situation
that requires you to spend
a lot more time
on the phone than you expected.
plans can start as low as $30 per month. Some prepaid plans offer Unlimited calls
- Pay Your Bill.
All your precautions go down
the drain if
the carrier cuts you off for
and they can do it faster than
company can. Better, set up
from a credit card or checking
account. Make sure to keep your credit card information
current so you don't lose service should
your credit card expire, or watch your checking account for enough
balance to pay the next bill.
- Get Faxes Online.
Use an alternative fax service
- Do You Have a Family?
Without a shared landline or broadband phone,
each family member may need
their own cell
phone, reducing your savings.
- Still Want a 'Shared' Family Line?
In some households, the family
and uses their common landline
interaction among family members
or any friends
who may want to call 'the house'.
MetroPCS offers a service that rings all wireless
phones of members of a Family plan, called
GroupLINE. This removes the need for a land line to
be the common communications thread through
- Don't Leave Your Home Phone-Less:
If you leave the house in the
hands of the
baby sitter and take your cell
you, make sure the sitter has
and convenient way to contact
you, the fire
department or the poison control
Check the sitter's phone before
or show where your 'backup'
- Register Your Wireless Phone for 911 Service!
Most cellular carriers have
a method of associating
your wireless number with a
This is helpful if they get
a call from your
wireless number but cannot
location. Some people consider
this a privacy
issue, but the benefits outweigh
especially if someone else,
like a child,
makes a call for you.
- Consider Bundles:
You local telephone company
may offer a discount
on either your wireline or
phone if you bundle them through
company. In some cases you
can switch from
dealing with the cellular carrier
and assign your same account
to the phone
company for the discount.
- Rural Customers:
Ask your local cellular carrier
if they offer
a special service for your
home. In some
areas beyond landlines, some
a special deal for wireless
some locations they provide
of cellular service for a subsidized
as little as $1 per month.
Get help finding wireless service
to seniors, including how to
service for as little as $1
per month, at
Cellular for Seniors.
- "Wireless" vs. "Cordless"
A "Wireless" phone
uses a cellular
network (or alternatively a
and does not need to be connected
in the home to function. A
phone has a portable handset
that only works
with a base station which is
a phone line and power outlet
Bad cellular coverage at home is more common
than the carriers will admit, but there are
several technical solutions:
- Hybrid landline/cellular phone:
is a "cordless" phone
you drop your cellular phone
into a base
station that connects to a
by Bluetooth. The unit tells
you which phone
the call is coming from and
allows you to
choose which one to be used
calls. You can leave the cellular
the coverage "hot spot"
the cordless handset elsewhere
in the house.
This alternative does not let
'cut the cord', but it could
allow you to
switch your landline to a more
- Docking options:
give you a base to plug in
phone that enables you to make
your cell phone using various
types of other
phones elsewhere in your home,
leave the cellular phone in
a signal 'hot
spot.' These are offered by
carriers and independent suppliers
by names like "Dock N'
- Get your own mini cell site.
Some cellular carriers now offer a box called
a "femtocell" than you can install
right in your home. Femtocells are the next
size smaller than "picocells" which
provide coverage in stores and hotels. The
Femtocell is actually a cellular "repeater"
that amplifies the signal of your cell phone
both into and out of your house, giving you
excellent cellular coverage everywhere in
the home. It has the advantage of providing
seamless service inside and outside your
phone. This eliminates the need for the "base",
as in the above two options, but requires
you to keep your cellular phone with you
throughout the house. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint offer their own versions
of "Network Extender." Also, several
wireless retailers offer extenders with no
- Connection to the Internet:
Unless you have a cellular-equipped
you'll need a wireless modem
plugs into a USB port or a
You might be able to access
a stray wi-fi
connection somewhere in your
- Have a Backup.
Have a web-capable cellular
phone or a second
wireless modem that would access
network. It can be an inactivated
modem that will allow you to
sign up when
needed. Consider a dongle for
you cell phone.
- Do The Math.
Make sure your changes make
Consider any 'bundled' discounts.
fooled by short-term promotions.
your costs out a year or two
to make sure
the promotional price makes
the regular price
you pay later acceptable.
- Broadband Phones:
Setting up a wireless broadband
also gives you access to a
phone line that
can be connected through a
house, as long
as you keep your computer turned
- Rural Customers:
You may need to ask around
as to what providers
are available. Often there
is wireless broadband
service your neighbors don't
know about or
DSL the phone company doesn't
are also satellite broadband
alternative broadband phone
will work through
those connections as well.
- Drop Your Service to the Most Basic Level:
The phone company is required
a basic service at a regulated
can charge big fees for all
their extra features.
Drop to the lowest tier of
service and either
choose a Long Distance carrier
not charge a monthly fee, or
to Long Distance on that phone
if your telephone company will
do it without
an extra charge. Use your cellular
for "free" Long Distance
and the features that you want,
mail. The cheapest wireline
tiers use a "measured"
number of calls, or are "incoming
which may only available if
you ask. You
might also qualify for a subsidized
- Switch to Cheaper Features:
We only Call Forward to one
number, our cell
phone, so we use a much cheaper
form of Forwarding,
like "Call Forward If
which is less than $1 per month.
calls are forwarded to a number
at the phone company if you
This allows us to use the features
cellular phone, including Voice
callers won't know your cell
- Get a Cheaper Long Distance Service:
Some people have had their
(LD) charges increase without notice. Since it costs to block
access to LD, we just stopped using our "1+"
LD service and started using a Prepaid Long
Distance card. But it's a pain to enter all
those digits, so get a "PIN-less"
prepaid phone card that recognizes your number
with Caller ID and makes the call with no
extra digits. Enter their "800"
access number in a memory location in your
phone and you can access LD with a minimum
of button presses. Avoid paying any more
than .05 a minute for US Long Distance. Some
cards specialize in discounts to certain
foreign countries. You could use different
providers, based on the location you're calling,
on the same phone line. These cards can also
be used with cellular phones that don't have
free Long Distance. There are other "PIN-less"
Long Distance options on our Unwired Discount Page.
- Subscribe to a Wireline Re-seller:
There are many companies that
your wired service with all
you want: Unlimited Local and
Calls, Voice Mail, Call Waiting,
and more, all included in one
still connect to your house
through the phone
company's lines, so they can
only save you
so much. But it may be enough
to get the
features you want at a reduced
can keep your current number
and you get
full 911 service.
- Reversing Roles:
Consider your wireline as your "backup"
instead of using it as your main phone. It
can be dedicated to the alarm or a fax machine,
if you really need one.