Mailbag: I'll keep the landline, thanks

* Spotty coverage, health issues - Why some readers will stick with wired phones

Last time, we shared the responses of some readers who prefer to live without their landlines. Today, we hear from readers who are sticking with their wired service, at least for the time being. Several reasons were given, including emergency backup, lousy cell service, as well as the need to rely on DSL for their Internet service.

From reader DeLyle, who wants more cellular coverage before he switches - "I was going to drop my home 'wired' Sprint system, and since I [was] on a cable modem, it would have worked fine. But then I moved to a new home in the extreme northwest end of Las Vegas, and my AT&T Wireless service is terrible here. Once inside the house, I lose the signal, so I [have] to make long-distance calls at one spot in my backyard! With an improved signal and/or another provider with better service, I'd drop the wired line in a heartbeat."

From Bruce in West Virginia, who hasn't switched just yet: "One thing that's always been attractive to me is the notion of having a single number where I can be reached anywhere. If I can get the attractive new wireless features (ubiquitous Internet, text messaging, e-mail, file sharing, MP3, etc.) at the same time, I would be in the proverbial hog heaven.

"There are two practical considerations holding me back - the fact I use DSL for Internet access at home (and I like it), and the fact that I live in West Virginia, where topography rules. People in rural areas would benefit greatly from wireless technology, but we'll probably have to wait until the next century. Unless we pose the problem as one of national security. Unfortunately, many disasters occur in rural and/or remote areas. Our people, as well as the disaster victims, could really use a reliable wireless infrastructure."

From Bill in St. Louis, who is happy with his landline service - "As it stands now, I will be keeping my home landline. I live in the central core of St. Louis, and my SBC phone is only $12 a month. Even with all the end user fees, it's still less than $20, and I get 50 free long-distance minutes.

"We have two cell phones (wife and daughter). It would cost me more to add separate cell phones for me and my son. I don't use the phone much, but my son (14) and daughter (18) tend to tie it up, even with her cell phone. She 'only' has 500 anytime minutes, and still uses the old landline a lot. I also have DSL on that phone line. In my case it does not make any sense to drop it."

From David P., who cites health concerns as a reason to stick with his wired phone - "I am 48, and my concerns are based on health questions of frequent use of a cell phone next to your head."

From Dr. Rick, who has some geographical issues - "I live near the bottom of a small hill. Although this is flat land in South Carolina, my reception stinks, especially when near the computer or home power panel. Unfortunately, there will probably always be some small 'dead zones,' which are unacceptable to some individuals. Also, we have recently had frequent thunderstorms with no electricity for a few minutes to a half-hour. Also, batteries fade over time, and most of the current phones have no easy way to simultaneously charge a backup to carry along."

From Karl, who uses a cell phone for long-distance but keeps the wired line for local service - "If power goes out in my area, the cell towers are out too, and my cell phone is useless. However, I still have my service with my local corded phone. This proved very useful this past winter when we had two major ice storms that took out power for days at a time (in North Carolina). Until my cell phone company can provide reliability equal to the local phone system, I'm keeping the landline!"

From reader Rich, who remains concerned with reliability - "I've always thought those Verizon Wireless 'Can you hear me now?' ads were awful, because they only cemented into people's mind how spotty cell coverage is, and how many times you have to ask that question each day. Even though the response is always 'Good,' the fact that the question is asked so often doesn't inspire confidence."

Finally, from reader Liz, who wrapped up this side pretty convincingly: "Take your cell phones and stick 'em. Like other electronic toys, most people abuse them and the rest of us will pick up the tab in an even more damaged environment, higher medical costs and medical insurance, and higher car insurance as the incidents of crashes related to cell phone use dramatically increases. Technology is great - but like anything else it can be totally abused."

Thanks to everyone who wrote in, I enjoyed reading all of your comments.

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You ready to drop your landline?

Network World Mobile Computing Newsletter, 06/19/03

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