Blog Post

Cutting the Cord: An Update

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

About two months ago, I wrote about my decision to get rid of my land line and rely strictly on my cell phone — with its unlimited plan — for my voice needs. It was a mistake. My social network (namely in the form of my mother-in-law) couldn’t take it, so my husband and I capitulated and returned to AT&T for a basic land line with no frills for about $20 a month.

I should note that when we lost the land line, neither my husband nor I really noticed. There was one awkward moment when I had to send a fax and realized I couldn’t unless I went down the street to the grocery store, but other than that, I never missed the cord. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, a wonderful woman who still carries around a copy of the Yellow Pages in her car for when she needs to look up a number or an address, was very uncomfortable with the idea.

Since she regularly comes over to watch our daughter, and never charges her cell-phone battery, I saw her logic. And it got me to thinking about babysitters in general, and the possibility that we may one day hire one who didn’t have a cell phone (hey I suppose it could happen). More likely would be a case of bad reception, but if that coincided with any sort of emergency, they’d essentially be left incommunicado. It just seemed safer and easier to keep a cheap, dedicated land line.

To me it’s an important reminder that technology is essentially about linking us to one another (and being able to carry 10,000 songs in a gadget smaller than a cigarette case). To really make it work, your friends and family have to participate as well. That’s obvious on a social networking site, but less so when it comes to hardware and networking. For when I tried to cut the cord, my family wouldn’t let me

photo from wikiHow

21 Responses to “Cutting the Cord: An Update”

  1. I’ve been pondering cutting the cord too but I want to keep my landline number. One solution is to port it to a cell phone which for me will only add $10 to my family plan (at&t mobility). Saving $30+ a month. Only issue is that mine or the wife’s cell phone is NEVER close enough for to answer before going to voicemail. It’s upstairs, I’m downstairs. It’s in the car, she doesn’t hear it…and so on. So I’ve also been looking into cellular to landline gateways so is to use my existing landline cordless phones. XLink Gateway is one that I’m researching into buying.

    But this doesn’t address any 911 issues since emergency calls are handled differently originating from cell or landline.

    Food for thought.

  2. I have Cablevision’s Triple Play in NY. So I guess I technically have a land line, though the only person to have ever called it was a telemarketer.

    I’ve been cellphone only since I got my cellphone. I think it’s just a condition of my generation (I’m 26). We’ve grown up using cellphones and we have moved away from using landlines. I can’t imagine that landlines will really be a viable business come 20 years from now, but like everything else, it’s a slow uptake.

  3. Many folks here in San Diego ditched their landlines and it almost cost them their lives back in October of 2007 when we had the firestorm. In San Diego county we have a reverse 911 system and it dialed thousands of people at 4AM to let them know the fire was approaching. Folks without a landline had no idea the fire was coming. When I went to bed at around 10am it was 30 miles away and by morning was I was being evacuated. Check with your county to register your cell phone so it can be included in the reverse 911 if your county has one. Here’s the original blog post:

  4. austinandrew

    Of course, do you remember what happened in NYC when all of the power went out? The landlines worked, the mobiles did not because the cellular system was all jammed up.

  5. Stacey Higginbotham

    I’m diggin’ the pre-paid cell phone idea. I’ll have to run it by my mother-in-law, but maybe that would work. Alex I view my phone as a service, not an investment. But it still hurts to spend $240 a year.

  6. I use a landline for strictly E911. No sense in having the 911 operator trying to ask you where you are, plus I’ve noticed cell phones in this area route to the city next door (Bellevue) so you have to wait to get transferred to the proper 911 in Seattle.


  7. We have been landline-free for over five years. We have n people in the house and n+1 cellphones on a family plan. The extra phone sits in a cradle that Nokia used to make that combines a charger with powered speakers. So we always know where at least one phone is, it’s always charged, and it functions nicely as a speakerphone. Plus, we always have a spare cellphone for a babysitter or out of town guests.

  8. Alex Rootham

    To earn $20 a month from an investment that returns 5%, you’d need to invest $4800. There’s lots of things you can do with $4800 no?

    Might I suggest:
    a) buy another charger for your mother-in-law and leave it at your house
    b) When you and your husband go out together, leave one of your cellphones at home
    c) Buy the cheapest pre-paid cellphone you can find (is that still more than $20?)

  9. In Los Angeles, cellphone 911 goes to California Highway Patrol and the wait can be 15 minutes. ALthough I’ve heard land-based 911 isn’t much faster.

  10. huuh, why dump the land line? You can’t get broadband without the land line and telephony is included in the broadband charge, so why bother. Plus the costs of a mobile phone are prohibitively expensive and you’re running up the costs for everyone who wants to call you.

    Oh wait, you live in the US. Where broadband is expensive and doesn’t include many of the standard things we have in the EU, but where mobile calls now can have unlimited calling and data usage, which results in americans using their mobiles 5-10 times more than in the EU.

    I wonna live in Singapore, where mobile phones are cheap, fibre is rolled out everywhere and there is no gum on the street.

  11. I had a similar situation in that my wife wanted to ditch the landline. We have 3 young children (all under 5). Our oldest is now able to dial 911 – we know this from experience… :) My concern was if one of us were traveling and something happened to the other parent watching the kids, would our kids be able to find our cell phone if it was in our coat pocket or we forgot it in the car?

    The other option is to leave a phone plugged in because even if you don’t have service, you are supposed to be able to call 911.

  12. Good point. I currently don’t have a land line, and don’t miss it, but then I don’t have kids either and my entire family has AT&T cellphones. It just goes to show that each person needs to make a choice based on their individual situation, not because lots of people are doing the same thing (case in point: getting rid of cable and relying on the net and DVDs).