Keep your home telephone?
I know “The times, they are a changin’!” People everywhere are dropping their traditional home phones and using their cell phones exclusively. But, is it a good decision? This article will give you some facts to help you decide.
Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about eliminating your home phone service.
- Long Distance vs Local – For many years, we were charged more for a call to a friend who lived just a few miles away, but in a different calling area, (in-state LD) than we were charged to call someone on the other side of the nation (out-of-state LD). Now, even non-technical people have realized that it is ridiculous to pay for long distance services at all. They are now using their cell phones more and their land lines less. Generally, with mobile/cell service, there no difference between the cost of LD (or roaming) and local calls.
- Mobile vs Land Lines – Many have now “cut the cord” and eliminated their land line phone service entirely. Some are using their mobile phones for all connections while others are using some form of VOIP service (either via Ooma, Vonage, MagicJack, or Cable provider). This has surely eaten into the profits of traditional land line providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and (to a lesser extent) Sprint. Notably, T-Mobile does NOT have a land line service in the US. Therefore, this trend is not cutting their profits.
- Voice vs Data – traditional phones operated by sending sounds over wires. Today, all conversations are (at some point) converted to digital data streams and passed over fiber, wireless, satellite, or (in decreasing measure) traditional copper wire. Wireless carriers have tried to separate voice and data charges. But, more and more, technology is forcing the elimination of such a distinction. Mobile VOIP eliminates the need for “minutes” and uses only the data connection. Carriers will have to react to that sooner or later.
- SMS vs Free Texting – Let’s face it, normal (paid) texting (SMS) is a rip-off! It has been a “cash cow” for the carriers since day one. Due to the technology used, it costs the carrier almost NOTHING! But it costs the user $.20 per text – both outgoing and incoming – whether you want it or not! The SMS service has also been the vehicle for scams by third parties where you get charged several dollars (or more) each month on your mobile phone bill for some service that you did not ask for, do not use, and may not even realize you are paying for. Then along came those smart phone applications that do a better job of texting – for free – and the scam “feature” is eliminated. What is NOT to like?
- Mobile/Cell Carrier Loyalty vs Subsidized Phone Prices – The US is a bit unique in the overall business model for mobile services. In much of the world, you go to a store, buy a phone and THEN decide which carrier you want to pay for your mobile phone service. This model FORCES competition between the various carriers and between the phone manufacturers. Carriers are bidding for users based on the SERVICES that they provide – not which phones they offer. On the other hand, manufacturers must offer phones with more “bang for the buck” than their competitors. But, in the US, we are forced to select a carrier and then see which phones they offer. For several years, anyone who wanted an iPhone (spit) had to subscribe with AT&T (serves ’em right, from my Android-biased point-of-view). This is because the phones offered by each carrier will (normally) be LOCKED and only work on that carrier’s system. In support of such a BAD plan, the carriers say that they are subsidizing the cost of the phones. Indeed, if you sign up for a 2-year contract, you usually get your phone for about 1/4 of what it would cost on the open market – if it is even available. However, when I have visited other countries, I found that phones there were priced (unlocked) about the same as the “subsidized” phones here in the US. Google & Apple have both tried to break this model (with very little success so far). But at some point in the future, all of this must change also.
- Examples of REAL Change (from an article on DSL Reports) – users in Paris are now “able to get 100 Mbps fiber, VoIP service and a full television lineup for around $40.” Plus, the article states that users can have “a free wireless plan that includes 60 voice minutes and 60 SMS’s.” Additional minutes are $.05 and texts are $.01 for each one you SEND (evidently the received texts are free). Or, they can have “unlimited calls and texts, access to the ISP’s public Wi-Fi hotspots, and 3GB of data for … roughly $25.” Another article suggests that FREE WIRELESS is also coming to the US.
In our area, the only wire line services are provided by AT&T. I closed my account with AT&T several years ago and transferred my local home phone number to my “Ooma” (VOIP) service. See my Ooma article here.
I used Mobile VOIP exclusively for almost two years. I have reverted to conventional cellular service only a few times. The rest of my mobile connections are via an Android app called GrooVe IP. (See my review here.) For text messaging, I use the Text-Plus Gold application.
The problem of Mobile VOIP? You must have some type of data connection for it to work. If you are using your carrier’s data connection vs the “minutes” allotment, then you may not see any benefit at all. However, if you have access to WiFi most (or all) of the time, then you could conceivably eliminate the “minutes” portion of your bill entirely. This is what I did. In order to achieve a data-only plan from the mobile carrier (for times when WiFi is not available), I purchased the Verizon MiFi 4G LTE device.