Getting Rid of Landline and Going Wireless, the Pros and Cons

After my customer service fiasco turned victory yesterday, my husband asked me why we keep our land line with Qwest. We both have cell phones, and neither one of us really gab on the phone very much. I talk to my mom and my brother the most, but nearly always on the weekend. And when I call my brother, I use my cell phone anyway, because we don’t have long distance on our land line.

So why do I keep the land line? It basically comes down to four things.

  1. The ability of 911 to trace the call, should my kids have to call.
  2. That my daughter is getting to be the age where she talks to her friends on the phone…a lot.
  3. That I worry I’ll forget to charge my phone and have no phone access when I need it.
  4. That the kids will be at home without a phone, should my husband and I ever need to be out of the house at different locations. (Otherwise we’d leave one of our phones home).

Forgetting to charge my phone could be overcome, if I set up a routine for charging the phone. That’s not a make or break reason.

We could use Skype as a home phone. I use Skype already for calling in to host Frugal Coast2Coast, and I like the service, so I think I could be comfortable with issue #4. Both of my kids are pretty computer savvy.

That leaves reasons one and two. So here are my questions for you all today. If you have dropped your landline, are you comfortable with the fact that 911 won’t know your exact location? Or are 911 call centers getting better about dealing with cell phones? I would think this service would improve as more and more people turn wireless.

And then there’s my daughter. She’s 11 years old, and I had always said I wouldn’t get her a cell phone until she was in high school. However, I wouldn’t want her friends constantly calling my cell phone. We could use Skype. Or I could get her a basic phone. How young is too young for a cell? Have any of you with tweens dropped the landline? What’s your solution?

And finally, as I check this out, are there things I should keep in mind? I know I’ll have to stay with AT&T Wireless, as that’s basically the only company that has good reception in our area. And we’ve been happy customers for quite a while. They’re a little more expensive than other plans, but less expensive plans aren’t worth it, if I can’t get service at my house!

Do you have any advice for me? I’m not even sure I can do this yet, or that I want to. But I’m pondering the idea.

Photo by krasi.


By , on Feb 19, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Lisa:

    Landlines use much less energy than cell phones. See:
    Why use a cell phone when it can harm you and your family? See the science tab under:

  2. Pat Yoe:

    When I canceled my land line, Straight Talk on the Verizon network. Bought it at Walmart and it’s an amazing deal. The Samsung Finesse is a very cool smartphone and paying only $45 a month for unlimited everything is the best deal going!

    No contracts for me!

  3. Cathy Dryden:

    I have a work issued cell phone. I use Q West for my land line. Q West has a Low Usage Call Plan that hmmm, is not highly advertised. About 5 bucks cheaper per month. 20¢ per local call. I do not call out on it except for 911 & 1-800 #s (no charge). So, if you fell more comfortable w/ a land line use their Low Usage Plan.

  4. Malcolm De Winter:

    112 is the internationally recognised 911 Northb America 999 Uk and alln the other world wide emergency numbers. You are traced instantly. Howver cell phones want to charge for 911 and will not tell you about this. I was in a position to phone emergency on a UK road and 112 knew my position to the inch. This number works anywhere in the world.

  5. Jenni:

    I think it is all a matter of perspective, and what is important to you and your family. I use a landline to conserve on energy. The daily green speaks to this issue. I am thinking of getting a tracfone for when I am out and about, since the pay phones are being taken out. With the economy the way it is going, it would be better for them to put them back in. Since a lot of people may not be able to afford to be having cell phone contracts, and rely on pay phones.

  6. Bocarat:

    If you have teenagers, there’s no way they’re going to go without a cellphone.

    But it’s like giving them blank checks and finding out later what they spent. No good!

    But with prepaid phones you can make them more aware of the cost and even make it part of their “allowance”. They can keep track of their time and learn budgeting, too.

    I have a net10 phone and the quality is just fine and I can manage my costs, so it’s good deal!

  7. X3:

    I ran across an interesting article titled “Talk Is Cheap” reviewing top VoIP programs at This is the article link here to read a description and see videos about top webchat programs.

  8. marci:

    ABout cell phones and 911… out here the cell phone goes to whatever cell tower happens to pick it up…. The actual call can go to the next state sometimes – and then has to be relayed back to the local area.

    It doesn’t matter that I live 10 blocks from the 911 center… if the tower is out (windy here a lot) or another tower picks it up, it can go far far away, especially in a mountainous area. Our calls that come in from far out in the ocean can also end up most anywhere, and then have to be relayed to a closer 911 center. I used to be a 911 dispatcher, and we got a LOT of cell phone calls from the next state.

  9. Vanessa:

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so this may have been mentioned before, but if you have a phone jack but no service, all you have to do is plug in a phone and you can still dial 911. As for tweens with my phones, I got my 11yo one when I realized that he was going to be home alone for an hour or so a couple of times a week. I have T-mobile Family Allowances, which allows me to control the number of minutes and times of day he can use it, and we already have a Family Plan Unlimited texting package for my husband and I. That’s 9.99 for the line, 2.99 for Family Allowances and 19.99 for unlimited texting for all on the plan. About the same as a land line (but we would have the texting plan even without him on it).

  10. When you call 911 from your cell phone, it immediately goes to the local 911 operator for your cell phone number. So if you have a cellphone number that matches to the area you live in, this is not a problem. If you don’t have a cell phone number that is the same as the area you live in, you can simply say “I need connected to the City Name 911”

    My husband and I have only had cell phones for the past three years and have a TN phone number while living in PA. Most people that we talk to are on cell phones anyway, so long distance isn’t really even a concern. We do have a couple of people that call us from their land lines, but we are long distance for them since we are two states away.

    Be cautious of getting rid of your land line if your provider for the land line also provides you your internet or cable service. When we lived in TN, we wanted to drop our landline but it would increase our internet to almost double the cost. A crooked way to keep your business, but there isn’t much choice.

    Consider the cost of adding another line and minutes to your phone as compared to the cost of having a land line for your daughter. One may save you money in the long run.

  11. Christina:

    We went “wireless” only a year ago. DH and I each have our own cell and we added the $10/mo cell to our plan for our 4 boys. $10/mo was much less expensive than the absolute basic plan we could get for land-line service. With GPS capability now days, 911 not finding you is pretty much a moot point if you live in any type of a city (big, small, etc.). Rural areas obviously have to check this out first.

    The kids phone is kept on the cradle in the main living area of the house and currently is only used for times that we go somewhere and leave a child(ren) at home. Our phones are kept with us or plugged in on our nightstands at night.

    Pluses – (1) adding the 3rd line was much less expensive. (2) we don’t have to deal with another bill. (3) it’s portable – if we drop the kids off at the library for an hour or something similar, they are able to contact us if necessary.

    Minuses – (1) can’t have a home fax machine (but we just use eFax instead). (2) If you forget to keep your battery charged, it could become an issue

    I don’t count internet access as a “minus” for a number of reasons… (1) many people can get cable broadband, (2) or dsl options through their satellite service, (3) and now days, there are a lot of local “wireless” wireless providers… we are changing service (at our home) from cable broadband to wireless broadband – meaning we RECEIVE the service to our home via a miniature satellite. We’ve used this service at our place of business for a couple of years now and absolutely love it. When our cable internet fee recently jumped to the same price as the wireless, we decided now was the time to switch.

  12. Lynnae,

    We have been pondering this very recently as well. Right now, we can add a line to our cell phone plan for only $10. We have the phones (due to upgrades in phones and such) so we wouldn’t need to purchase the phone itself. Doing this would save $20ish a month for us.

    We haven’t for fear that the kids will not put it on the charger, and it will get lost! :) But, it would be nice to have, as both the bigger girls have cell phones, so it would be only a home phone.

  13. Greg:

    @Jen: I was working in downtown DC on 9/11. Cell phones were useless that day, POTS was the only way to make a call.

    Email was the most effective form of communication that day. VOIP was not widespread, so I do not know how it would have affected data circuits.

  14. Hokies:

    I work on campus at Virginia Tech. During the shooting, it was nearly impossible to make or receive a call to a cell phone because all lines were completely jammmed. Even though the circuits for the land lines were overloaded, it was much easier to use them (trying for 10-15 minutes) than wireless (couldn’t use all day).

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