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Your Guide to Cut the Cord
Pros & Cons of Cutting the Phone Line
Other Things to Consider

Pro's:
  • Cost:
    Most wireline phone companies charge more than what you'd pay for most alternatives, and they are are taxed more as well. There are some locations where getting new wired phone service is prohibitively expensive or even impossible. Long Distance and extra features like Call Waiting are normally included with alternative phones. These calling features aren't regulated so they can be very pricey.

  • More Features:
    Cellular and broadband phones normally include Long Distance, Voice Mail, Caller ID, Call Forwarding and more, usually at no additional charge. They also have Text Messaging and various forms of data service which are unavailable with most landlines.


  • Portability:
    If you move your home more than average (or if it's on wheels), your phone and your number can stay with you. There are no "installation" charges.


  • Temporary Usage:
    You can have phone service for the season in a vacation home or cabin, or on an extended stay at a hotel or home of a friend or relative without installing a separate line.


  • Fewer Telemarketers:
    Nuisance calls are reduced because telemarketers want to target customers in certain geographic areas. With cellualr and broadband phones they won't know where you are. Most telcos provide your landline number to telemarketers. With cellular it's illegal...for now. With broadband, it depends on the carrier who sets up your number.


  • Internet Access:
    Your wireless phone can also be your connection to the Internet, either with an internal browser or tethered to your computer, and available wherever there is cellular coverage. Wireless broadband is also available for home use and can be separate from your cellular account.


  • Wi-Fi for Multiple Devices:
    You can get a cellular modem that provides a wi-fi signal that can connect multiple wi-fi devices.


  • Attitude:
    Some wired phone companies just treat their customers badly. Sometimes it feels better to leave...at any price.



Con's:
  • Safety:
    If you need to call 911, public safety authorities won't automatically know where you are. Unless you have 'registered' your alternative phone, you'll have to tell them. Also, calls with alternative phones will not necessarily be routed to the closest public safety agency. You won't receive "Reverse 911" calls alerting you to a public emergency in your neighborhood unless your local emergency center allows you to sign up your number and associate it with a local address.


  • Security:
    With wireless, your phone calls are sent over the air. There is a chance they can be tracked and possibly heard. With wireline there is less of a chance. Some businesses will not allow you to use their services without a traceable land line. This includes credit card companies, pizza shops and a few others, although this rule is slowly being relaxed. Satellite TV services want a landline or broadband connection for their equipment to call them each night.


  • Reliability:
    Wired telephone services have come as close to 100% reliable as is practical. Their network has substantial power backup, redundant circuits and have had years to get it right. Alternatives are improving but their networks can vary significantly. Corded phones work in power failures. Cell sites and other communications nodes have a limited amount of backup power. In an extended power outage, such as after a hurricane or snowstorm, the service may not work, or you may not be able to charge your device, leaving you with no service. Cable phones also have a lower level of reliability depending on equipment at your home. Cell sites can stop working for other reasons and repairs often need to be made on site and may take time. Broadband and cable services require one or more pieces of equipment at your house which you will need to fix if it fails. Wireline equipment can normally be repaired at the central office. Murphy's Law says breakdowns will happen at the worst possible time.


  • Sound Quality:
    Some alternative phones don't sound the same or as good as a landline. While your alternative phone may sound fine to you, it may be difficult for others. Also, some broadband phone services just dump their audio into the Internet resulting in widely varying data travel times giving you significant sound delays.


  • Lack of Service:
    You may be in a location where there are no wireless broadband alternatives or may have poor cellular coverage. This might be rectified by adding a 'cell site' to your home.


  • Broadband Speeds:
    While there are some fairly fast wireless broadband connections, it may be some time before they will compare to wired or cable connections.

  • You Have No Backup:
    Unless you have an extra cellular phone, if something happens to your main phone or its associated equipment, or your account, you can't just plug another phone into the wall. Losing or missplacing a cell phone is surprisingly common. A wired phone is usually attached (wired!) to the wall.


  • Inconvenience:
    Some alternative services only offer a single jack for one phone. If you want service throughout the house you either must go wi-fi or cellular. With a cell phone you need to keep it close to you if your home is large or on multiple floors.


  • Surprise Costs.
    Since you normally pay for cellular by the minute, you might talk a lot more than you think. Savings may be less than you expected when calculated long term. Broadband carriers are not regulated like wireline services and could make changes that you don't expect.


  • You Won't Be Listed in the Phone Book.
    Some directories let you to pay for a personal listing, but others use that as a way to keep you as a landline customer. MAybe this is a "Pro".

  Cellular Considerations:
  • Make Sure Your Cellular Coverage is Good
    It's preferable to be on your carrier's own network without roaming and check every room of your house for coverage, including the 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. Some of us have a "glove box" phone in the car. 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 economic sense. 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.
  • Check Your Plan
    You may be using your wireless phone more often. Unless your usage is fairly predictable, you never know when you'll face a situation that requires you to spend a lot more time on the phone than you expected. Unlimited Talk & Text plans can be quite reasonable include no-contract and Prepaid plans.
  • Pay Your Bill
    All your precautions go down the drain if the carrier cuts you off for nonpayment, and they can do it faster than a wireline company can. Better, set up automatic payment 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 like MyFax.com.
  • Do You Have a Family?
    Without a shared landline or broadband phone, each family member may need their own cell phone, reducing your savings. Some wireless carriers do offer substantial savings for "family" plans.
  • Don't Leave Your Home Phone-Less
    If you leave the house in the hands of the baby sitter and take your cell phone(s) with you, make sure the sitter has a reliable and convenient way to contact you, the fire department or the poison control center. Check the sitter's cell phone before you leave or show where your 'backup' phone is.
  • Register Your Wireless Phone for 911 Service!
    Most cellular carriers have a method of associating your wireless number with a particular address. This is helpful if they get a call from your wireless number but cannot determine your location. Some people consider this a privacy issue, but the benefits outweigh those issues, especially if someone else, like a child, makes a call for you. Also, your chances are better to be connected to the appropriate public safety agency right away.
  • Consider Bundles
    You local telephone company may offer a discount on either your wireline or your cellular phone if you bundle them through the one company. In some cases you can switch from dealing with the cellular carrier direct 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 carriers offer a special deal for wireless phone customers.
  • Seniors
    Get help finding wireless service that caters to seniors, including how to get wireless 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 wi-fi connection) and does not need to be connected to anything in the home to function. A "Cordless" phone has a portable handset that only works with a base station which is connected to a phone line and power outlet somewhere within the home.

ADD A 'CELL SITE' TO YOUR HOME!
Bad cellular coverage at home is more common than the carriers will admit, but there are several technical solutions:
  • 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 option, below, but requires you to keep your cellular phone with you throughout the house. These "Network Extenders" are available from the major cellular carriers as well as several wireless retailers who offer extenders with no monthly fees.


  • Docking Options
    give you a base to plug in your cellular phone that enables you to make calls through your cell phone using various types of other phones elsewhere in your home, letting you leave the cellular phone in a signal 'hot spot.' These are offered by both cellular carriers and independent suppliers and go by names like "Dock N' Talk" and "Fast Forward."

  Broadband Phone Considerations:
  • Connection to the Internet
    You'll need a computer that is always running and a modem that either plugs into a USB port or a PCMCIA connector.
  • Have a Backup
    Have a web-capable cellular phone or a second wireless modem and preferably one that could access a different network. It can be an inactivated cellular modem that will allow you to sign up when needed. Consider a dongle or 'tethering' for your cell phone.
  • Do The Math
    Make sure your changes make economic sense. Consider 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.
  • Broadband Phones
    Setting up a wireless broadband connection can also give you access to a phone line that can be connected through a house, as long as you keep your computer turned on.
  • 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 promote. There are also satellite broadband options. Your alternative broadband phone will work through those connections as well.


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