Save for myself, all the members of my immediate family have — at one point in time — reduced their telephony devices to their wireless mobiles only. That is, they gave up their landlines and the expenses involved therein in the belief that, since they almost always use only their cell phones, there was no reason to maintain a separate, clunky desktop appliance that would only gather dust.
Of course, as it now stands, all of them eventually ended up going back to the dual-phone system. They have landlines and mobile phones, although they still continue to use the latter almost exclusively. I never made the jump myself, but after having listened to their arguments both before and after the shift, I’ve decided that, as a freelance writer with her own business, having both in my house is critical for a smoother and more productive workflow.
As far as I can tell, the only real advantage of eliminating a landline is the elimination of its attendant cost. At the moment I’m paying Bresnan about $25+/month for my digital phone line. If it wasn’t bundled into a package with my cable and broadband Internet, it would likely be a few dollars more, but not by much.
The advantages, however, of having both a landline and cell phone are numerous:
- No matter how vigilant and responsible you may be about keeping your cell charged at all times, inevitably there will come a time or two or more when you’ll find it D-E-A-D. It’s happened to me more often than not, and having a landline is critical in making sure you get your editor’s phone call or when you’re in the middle of a very long interview.
- Having a cell phone + landline means that you can dedicate at least one of them (usually your personal cell) to your writing business. Sure, your family and friends will probably still try and dial your cell number if they can’t reach you at home, but if you want to make sure that you’re not interrupted at dinner by a business call, you can just switch off your mobile and let all your business calls go to voicemail. Plus, if you do use your cell exclusively for business, you might be able to deduct its associated costs on your income tax return, something you can’t do if you only use one line for both personal and business communications. (Remember that I’m not a tax professional, though, so make sure you consult with one before you make any assumptions on your returns.)
- Sometimes, for no earthly reason, cell phone signals just die. I once lived in an apartment at the bottom of a small hill in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. You’d think that, being smack dab in the middle of a huge metropolis like that, I would have no problems getting a cell signal, but you’d be wrong. I was stuck in a two-year service contract with Sprint at the time (T-Mobile signals were clear in the area), so I couldn’t switch to another provider. But even here in Grand Junction, where cell signals are fairly strong throughout most of the Valley, I get a bad signal dialing out of my own home. When you’re trying to chat up with an editor or an important interviewee, it can be really annoying and unprofessional to try and yell your way through the conversation. Having a backup landline phone can be a lifesaver in that kind of situation.
- This is related to Reason #1: Unless you have Unlimited Minutes — which are very expensive on most plans — you can find yourself going over your alloted plan and ringing up ridiculous per-minute charges as you merrily chat away in interviews. As I mentioned I have landline digital phone service through Bresnan, which not only allows unlimited long distance at any time of day or night, it also includes calls to Mexico and Canada. That’s even better than my cell phone plan — which costs roughly the same — because it doesn’t limit me to evening and weekend hours.
- Again, related to Reason #1: Landlines let you talk for however long you need to without having to worry about your phone dying in the middle of it. I once had a lengthy, two-hour chat with a New York Times bestselling novelist as part of a profile of her for a newspaper. Now, my cell phone could have handled that load, but not much more than that. Had I another interview or series of phone calls to make immediately afterwards, my service would have died, possibly in the middle of a critical call. With a landline always at the ready, I never have to worry about that.
Perhaps the only thing to worry about with landlines is that, with the increasingly popular digital phone services, you’re at the mercy of one provider. If your Internet is down, for example, your cable and your phone line will be down as well. In the olden days, you could often count on your phone to keep working even if the power went out. Not so with digital phones, which most often require electricity to work. Still, that’s a relatively rare occurrence in most medium- to small-sized cities, and even when it does happen, it’s usually for very brief periods of time.
That’s when having that cell phone comes in very, very handy.
By the way, I’m now on the lookout for corded telephones. Remember those? We have two cordless phones around the house, but there have been situations where an important phone conversation was dropped because of a dying battery. And of course, it happens when I’m chatting with an editor and not with some annoying telemarketer. A corded telephone will hopefully prevent that from happening in the future. Unfortunately, however, the selection of corded phones on the consumer market is now very, very small. Will post more once I’ve made my selection.