A Few Issues To Consider When Ditching Your Landline

My landline is getting cut off today. My wife and I now have two Sprint SERO plans that we will use for voice communication. Honestly, I’m looking forward to losing the landline. For the last six months or so, at least once a day we receive a phone call that proves to be nothing more than an interminable beeping sound. Aargh! I don’t know what causes it, but it’s enough to drive a man crazy!

Aside from eliminating the dreaded beeping phone phantom, there were a number of other issues we had to consider when making the decision to ditch the landline.

DSL Internet

If you have DSL, are you required to have a landline as part of your package? My plan through AT&T does… or at least it DID. As so-called Dry-Loop (or naked) DSL gains in popularity, I hope to see more companies offering it.

As I found out, dropping your landline with AT&T is easy, provided they offer dry-loop DSL in your area.

Alloted Minutes and International Calling

I don’t tend to spend hours talking on the phone each day, so I’m not too worried that I will exceed my 500 alloted minutes each month. If you DO tend to go over your minutes each month, you need to consider an easy way to track your minute usage. On my Sprint plan, I can dial *4 at any time to check my minutes.

There’s also a nifty little program called watchmycell (for Windows XP and Vista) that can automatically log into your phone account and notify you (via text message or e-mail) if you are close to using up your minutes. Oh, it’s FREE.

skype_logo.pngBefore I ditched my landline, I used Skype a lot to communicate with friends and family. It’s my software of choice for video chats. All calls from computer to computer are FREE. I have the Skype Pro service, so for $3 a month, I have unlimited computer-to-phone calling to anywhere in the USA or Canada.

Provided you have a decent broadband internet connection, the quality of the calls are quite good. I used Skype as my sole means of long-distance calling for well over a year, and I had only one or two dropped calls that entire time. Now that I have a cell phone, I doubt I will need Skype Pro anymore, but I can still use it if I run low on minutes.

Skype also has decent international calling rates. For instance, calls from the USA to Greece are just over 2 cents a minute. See their prices page for a complete listing.


I’ve been using the FREE GrandCentral service (by Google) for several months now, and I think it’s incredible. Without a doubt, it has made the cell-phone-only switch much more seamless. What is it? You simply must visit the GrandCentral site to learn more.

While my wife and I each have separate numbers for our cell phones (of course), we registered each number with GrandCentral. I give my close friends my specific cell phone number, and I give the GrandCentral number to everyone else.

Depending on the caller, GrandCentral will ring my phone, my wife’s phone, or both! I also LOVE the ability to mark callers as Spam, just like junk e-mail. Telemarketer harassing you? Mark their number as Spam in GrandCentral, and never hear from them again! Yeah! 🙂

Since my phone has unlimited web access, I can also log into GrandCentral’s mobile site and listen to voice messages, manipulate contacts, etc.

Oh, GrandCentral is currently in Beta and requires an invitation to join. I currently have 4 invitations available. All out, sorry! Open to US residents only.

Speaking of Google, don’t forget to add GOOG-411 to your phone. It’s a free 411 service that will auto-connect you to your destination. Nice!

Emergency Calling and Faxing

In case of emergency (from a landline), dial 911. In case of emergency (and you call from a cell phone), dial 911 – and then tell the operator your location. To my knowledge, that’s the main difference.

If you have minimal needs for faxing, there are a number of services that will allow you to send PDF or DOC files to a fax machine over the internet. One such service that I have used is faxZero. Their FREE service allows you to send up to two faxes a day (3-page maximum per fax). For greater needs, they also have a premium service. Fax1 allows you to send faxes for 12 cents a page.

To receive faxes, you can try the FREE, but limited version of eFax. More advanced users can always try the eFax Plus service.

These are some of the issues that I considered when I decided to ditch my landline, and I think my new setup will work well.

How about you? Have you dropped your landline as well? Did you run into any obstacles?

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3 thoughts on “A Few Issues To Consider When Ditching Your Landline

  1. One (minor) issue that folks using certain satellite or cable receivers, and some (but not all) users of DVR receivers, might encounter is their receivers get grumpy if they’re not connected to a working phone line they can make a phone call with.

    It honestly astounds me that in 2008 there *still* aren’t many DVRs and receivers that both require a “phone home” occasionally and can’t do it over the internet (wired ethernet is *so* laughably cheap … and even opening up those largely-disused USB ports would be a help).

    In reality, it’s not a *huge* problem, but there are a few exceptions:

    * Pay-Per-View via satellite (less often, via cable) won’t work from the receiver; you have to phone in to a call center or visit the provider’s web site to order a Pay-Per-View. Naturally if you’re trying to save money, this is a luxury that goes on the chopping block first (I hope :))
    * TiVos get whiny if they can’t phone home at least twice a month. This whiny attitude gets worse the longer the lack-of-phone-line condition lasts. Some people report the machines complain daily.
    * Dish network actually charges a “not attached to phone line” fee of $5 per month for certain households (the rules that govern this are a touch confusing to me, but the best I can figure out is this only applies when there’s more than one receiver (dual-tuner receivers count as “one receiver”) — this one seems to be intended mostly to stop people from putting six receivers on one account and wiring up several (unrelated) houses with satellite service (i.e. theft of service).

    Packet8 and Vonage are more expensive alternatives to Skype for the whole phone calls thing. They have three benefits over Skype, none of which really apply to me (I use Skype for incoming and outgoing calls too :)):

    * You can send and receive faxes over Packet8 and Vonage (sometimes this requires a bit of tweaking to get right, but once you’ve done it once, it generally keeps working).
    * Packet8 and Vonage lines work for the “phone home” problem with some receivers I described above. Usually you have to set the receiver to use a dialing prefix (that tells the phone adapter to tune the call differently) but it usually works.
    * You can use a regular phone without having to involve a computer (there are some Skype-compatible devices supposedly coming this year that do this same job, and once those hit the market, Skype may become another suitable fax/modem medium), and in fact if you know what you’re doing (disconnect the phone company’s line into your house at the junction box, then plug in your Packet8/Vonage adapter to a phone jack instead of a phone) you can give every phone jack in your home a ring tone (very handy).

    Your post goes over quite a few good ideas, too. I *love* GrandCentral 🙂 Give out one phone number, and decide who gets to ring which phone line(s) when they call. Wonderful stuff 🙂 Excellent post, by the way!

  2. Willfe – Thanks for the detailed comment. I had not thought about any issues related to receivers, but I suppose that’s because I don’t have a television. 🙂 Good points!

    I know of a few Skype-compatible devices, but have not looked into it too much. Some of the reviews that I’ve read for such products are fairly negative, so I’m waiting for the technology to improve a bit.

    Nice site, btw.

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