Home » today » Business » “Landline Phones: A Remnant of the Past or a Lifeline in Times of Cell Service Outages?”

“Landline Phones: A Remnant of the Past or a Lifeline in Times of Cell Service Outages?”


Landline Phones: A Remnant of the Past or a Lifeline in Times of Cell Service Outages?

In an increasingly digital United States, landline phones are becoming more and more of a remnant of a time gone by. With the rise of smartphones and wireless technology, landlines have practically reached the status of urban legend in a nation where mobile connectivity feels fundamental enough to be a Constitutional right. However, as recent events have shown, landline phones can still come in handy in times of cell service outages.

When Bernice Hudson’s cellphone service went down due to an AT&T network outage, she didn’t panic. Instead, she relied on her trusty landline telephone to communicate with the people she wanted to talk to. “Don’t get me wrong, I like cellphones,” the 69-year-old resident of Alexandria, Virginia, said. “But I’m still old school.”

Having a working landline puts Hudson in select company. According to the most recent estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics, about 73% of American adults in 2022 lived in households with only wireless phones and no landlines. Contrast that to early 2003, where fewer than 3% of adults lived in wireless-only households, and at least 95% lived in homes with landlines.

The shift away from landline phones can be attributed to the rise of smartphones and the introduction of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007. The smartphone fundamentally changed people’s relationships with their devices, turning them into data-saturated computers that could be carried around in their pockets. “I do think that was the big watershed moment when smartphone adoption really started to take off,” said Michael Hodel, a stock analyst at Morningstar Research Services LLC.

While landline phones may be on the decline, there are still individuals who prefer to use them. Rebecca Whittier, a 74-year-old resident of Penacook, New Hampshire, has both types of phone lines but prefers her landline. “I guess you’d call me old fashioned,” she said. “I’m not good with computers or electronics. So a landline’s good.”

The recent AT&T network outage highlighted the potential usefulness of landline phones in times of cell service disruptions. The San Francisco Fire Department even suggested using landlines as an alternative for calling 911 during the outage. However, some experts argue that the odds of people bringing back landlines and additional phone bills into their lives are low. The convenience and satisfaction provided by mobile connectivity are usually enough to keep people content.

Nevertheless, the outage did make some individuals reconsider the value of their landline phones. Mary Minshew, a resident of Bethesda, Maryland, in her 40s, admitted that she and her husband still have a landline even though they don’t use it. If it rings, she assumes it’s a scam or sales call and doesn’t answer. However, she holds onto it “out of this concern that you should always have a landline if something like this would ever happen. I mean, it’s rare. But something like that did happen.”

In a world where landline phones are becoming increasingly rare, the recent outage serves as a reminder that these old-fashioned devices can still serve as a lifeline in times of cell service outages. While the majority of Americans have embraced wireless technology, there are still those who prefer the reliability and simplicity of landline phones. Whether they are remnants of the past or a necessary backup, landline phones continue to hold a place in our increasingly digital world.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.