Have mobile phones made the landline redundant?
In the last decade, mobile phone use has outstripped the use of landlines in a similar manner to email's conquest of physical mail. However, the advantages of mobile phones over landlines are not as clear cut as one might imagine.
The most obvious reason that mobile phones have surged ahead is their convenience. The ability to make or receive calls wherever you are, using a dedicated handset and payment plan, removes the need to wait by the phone, use expensive payphones or share a line between a whole household or business.
Other benefits of mobiles tend to come in the form of non-vocal functions. Although some landline-based phones can process text-based communications, mobiles are streets ahead in this field. Texting is one of the most widely-used forms of communication in Britain, particularly among the under-25s, and the ability to send and receive emails and social networking communications instantly is also a huge bonus, as well as being particularly vital for those who are deaf or have other issues with standard telephones.
There are still several reasons why it is useful to have a dedicated landline in your home or office. Being able to plan to calls with the appropriate materials to hand to make notes, reference previous communications, or access a calendar or clock during a call when making arrangements for meetings or deadlines are all useful arguments for having a dedicated phone line. You can also arrange to have your landline in a quiet space, something that is often sadly missing when making or taking mobile calls on the move.
In addition, fixed phone line costs are now generally very low, especially if deals that include evening and/or weekend calls are taken into account, so a landline can be a money saver for people who make lots of voice calls. Landlines are also more likely to allow free or low-cost use of numbers with special prefixes such as 0800 or 0870, allowing companies to subsidise clients' contact with them.
Because landlines are not usually accessible 24/7 in the same way as mobiles, they can free you from some of the tension that many people have of being "on call" all day, every day. Answering machines for landlines are usually relatively inexpensive and can be customized in terms of allowing various types of messages or callbacks. They are also very reliable, because they are not dependent on your service provider forwarding messages.
In short, landlines are by no means redundant; rather, they have become useful for specialist tasks for which mobile phones are not so effective and for those occasions when economy is more important than ubiquity.
Posted by: Matt