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Your Guide to Cut the Cord
  Pros & Cons of Cutting the Cord:
Pro's:
  • Cost:
    Most wireline phone companies charge more than what you'd pay for most alternatives, and some 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.
  • 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 a landline.
  • 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.
  • Unlimited Plans:
    Most alternatives offer a plan that includes Unlimited talk minutes and Long Distance, including cellular. Most cellular carriers have eliminated Unlimited Data plans, although there are some that include Data with some other restrictions.
  • Anonymity:
    You can easily set up an account (especially prepaid cellular) with either no name or an alternative identity.
  • Fewer Telemarketers:
    Nuisance calls are reduced because telemarketers want to target customers in certain geographic areas. 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 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 to up to 5 separate wi-fi devices.
  • It's Green:
    Replace your fax with an Internet-based fax service like eFax or MyFax.com and stop wasting paper and ink. (Give your old fax to charity)
  • 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, you'll have to tell them. Also, calls with alternative phones will not necessarily be routed to the closest agency. Also, 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:
    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-like plug for their equipment to call them each night. It does work with some broadband phone systems. Your satellite service can still work without it, but you will most likely pay an extra charge.
  • Reliability:
    Wired telephone services have come as close to 100% reliable as is practical. Their network has substantial power backup, redundant circuits and years to get it right. Alternatives are improving but their networks can vary significantly. 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, leaving you with no service. Corded phones work in power failures. Cable phones also have a lower level of reliability.
  • 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.
  • Malfunctions:
    Cell sites can stop working for various reasons. Repairs often need to be made on site and may take time. Broadband 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Otherwise, plan on using the phone near your computer or router. With a cell phone you need to keep it close to you if your home is large or on multiple floors.
  • It Might be Difficult to Get a Job:
    Some employers require a "Local" number to consider you for a position. While you can change your out-of-town portable number to something local, there goes your "Number For Life."
  • 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.
  • Alarm systems.
    Most existing dial-up alarm systems don't work with broadband phone connections. There are other alarm alternatives, including wireless.
  • You May Not Be Able to Send or Receive Faxes.
    In some cases, faxing is not an issue. In others, you can't just plug in your fax machine. A better choice is to to use a paperless, web-based service like eFax or MyFax.com.


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