Bad Economy Makes Telephone Land Lines Even More Obsolete

Slate today published an interesting article on land lines, our old, obsolete telephonic companions. Reporter Daniel Gross cites the economy as provoking shifting attitudes towards these former mainstays:

In this first real slowdown of the wireless age, consumers seem to be saying that home-based telephones are expendable luxuries, like Starbucks lattes or Coach handbags. And it makes sense. Confronted with high inflation, soaring energy costs, and stagnant wages, millions of households are facing choices about which monthly bills to pay and which commitments to maintain. And if it comes down to one or the other, the mobile or the home-based land line, it’s clear which is a necessity and which is an option.

Another feature of today’s economic climate favors wireless over land-lines: the real estate mess. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures are booming. In the first half of 2008, there were 1.4 million foreclosures. The company is projecting at least 2 million foreclosures for 2008. When people under financial duress move out of their homes, they’re likely to disconnect the land line and find some temporary arrangement (a rental, staying with friends or relatives), which makes it unlikely they’ll acquire a new land line. What’s more, the number of vacant homes is at a record (about 3 million), and none of them needs a land line.

I sure hope cell phones don’t give you brain tumors. With metered Internet coming soon to an ISP near you, Vonage and Skype use may become a lot harder, making cell phones the mainstay of telephone communications.

Now I really want to get an iPhone 3G.

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  • I recently went back to a landline and a cell phone. The problem? Cell phone service just sucks. It is tough to maintain a connection and the voice quality is poor. There is far too much demand for too little wireless space.

    I understand the argument, but I tried cell phone only and the cell phone service — from that same iPhone provider — failed.

    Add in fast DSL with the phone service and all of a sudden things start to look a little better.

    Who wants to do interviews on cell phones?

  • @ Scott

    I would definitely have to agree with you about not wanting to use cell phones for important calls. I have been considering getting a landline for this purpose but have yet to convince myself to do it because it seems like a wasted bill. I would probably never use it unless I was conducting a conference call or doing an interview….and who wants to pay a $40 bill for a couple of calls a month?