John Terra
John Terra 27 July 2015
Categories Technology

Landlines Are Dying

Yes, it seems that the land line is going the way of the horse and buggy, the rotary phone, and the 8-track tape.

If you watch a TV show from twenty years ago or older and you see someone using a phone booth, do you chuckle like a wise guy and say something like "Wow, what IS that thing? Who uses stuff like that?". It IS rather amusing when we look at old tech and realize that things simply aren’t done that way anymore, or at best, are rarely done. Progress marches on, and examples of obsolescent technology become a quaint oddity that we laugh and shake our heads over.

Well, start practicing that whole laughing and shaking of heads routine again, because another venerable bit of communication tech is on the way out. Yes, it seems that the land line is going the way of the horse and buggy, the rotary phone, and the 8-track tape. For instance, according to the article "6 Reasons Landline Phone Systems Are Becoming Obsolete", in the state of New York alone, land line usage has dropped by 55% in the past decade.

Its one thing to see phones change and evolve from the primitive things they use to be to the touch-tone wireless phones of the 90’s, but, the ACTUAL land lines themselves? Going away? How did this happen?

Follow The Money
Some of it comes down to good old economics. Landline systems, also humorously known as POTS (Plain Old Telephone Systems) have never been a cheap thing to have. Sure, maybe the basic line is fairly decent price-wise, but when you consider all of the extra (and costly) bells and whistles that modern systems now include as standard features, then POTS cease being anything remotely resembling a bargain.

They Are Being Supplanted By Better Tech
Black and white televisions went away because color is better. Traditional electric fuses were phased out because circuit breakers are safer and easier to use. New tech makes old tech obsolete, and right now, IP phone systems, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, can so outperform traditional copper wire lines that it’s not even a question as to which is better.

Communication Companies Don’t Want To Support Them Anymore
Even the phone companies themselves don’t want anything more to do with landlines. Giants like AT&T realize that the POTS simply can’t deliver the level of service, flexibility, and economy that a VoIP system can, so they’re edging away from copper lines.

Even The Law Has It In For Landlines
Some state legislatures are considering passing laws that would lift any obligations on the part of the communication companies to provide landline service to everyone. And does anyone really think that big corporations, when told that they no longer had to do something (especially something that costs), would turn around and say "Oh no, we would love to keep doing this, please!". Spoiler alert: No. No they wouldn’t.

Is There ANY Landline Love Left?
Bear in mind, the VoIP and Wi-Fi dominance in communication isn’t absolute. Supporters of POTS (rightly) point out that at least the copper-wire systems aren’t as vulnerable to hackers and electronic eavesdroppers, nor are they subject to interference and spotty coverage the way the newfangled systems are. Because let’s face it; no matter what those coverage maps in the commercials show, they don’t necessarily jibe with reality.

Some people like having a landline in reserve in case their mobile device loses power, or there’s a financial transaction to be done over the phone and they feel better using a landline for it.

To sum it up, VoIP and Wi-Fi are poised to take over completely, but it won’t be immediate and it won’t be complete; at least, not until security and coverage issues are settled once and for all.

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