Most wireline phone companies
than what you'd pay for most
and they are are taxed more
as well. There
are some locations where getting
phone service is prohibitively
or even impossible. Long Distance
features like Call Waiting
are normally included
with alternative phones. These
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.
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
- 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
- Fewer Telemarketers:
Nuisance calls are reduced
want to target customers in
areas. With cellualr and broadband
they won't know where you are.
provide your landline number
With cellular it's illegal...for
broadband, it depends on the
sets up your number.
- Internet Access:
Your wireless phone can also
be your connection
to the Internet, either with
browser or tethered to your
available wherever there is
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
Some wired phone companies
just treat their
customers badly. Sometimes
it feels better
to leave...at any price.
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.
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.
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
phone may sound fine to you,
it may be difficult
for others. Also, some broadband
just dump their audio into
the Internet resulting
in widely varying data travel
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
broadband connections, it may
be some time
before they will compare to
wired or cable
- 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.
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
- 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.
are not regulated like wireline
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.
is a "Pro".
- 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
- 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
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.
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
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
- 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.