Why Do People Still Have Landlines?

by Broke Grad on April 23, 2009

The year is 2009, and I think it’s safe to say that practically everyone has a cell phone these days. They’re portable, relatively inexpensive, and do way cooler stuff than the phones our parents grew up using. So here’s a question from a Generation Y’er who has relied solely on a cell phone for the past seven years — why do people still have landlines?

Seven years ago, I got my first cell phone, and I’ve never looked back. Since then, I’ve never had a landline. Cell phones put home phones to shame nowadays. I saved up for an iPhone 3G at the end of last year, and it’s awesome. I use it as my phone, a navigation device, a portable media player, and a portable Internet device.

Cell phones do have some disadvantages though. I’ll never forget the time I tried to get pizza delivered to my apartment in college, but they refused to do it because I called from a cell phone number. I think that’s the only time I’ve wished that I still had a landline since deciding to live life landline-free.

It’s even more confusing for restaurants now because you can keep the same cell phone number. I know a lot of people, myself included, that keep the same number even after moving somewhere new, because it’s easier than having to update all of your accounts and letting all of your friends and family know about the new number.

While cell phone coverage has dramatically improved over the years, I still get bad reception and dropped calls every once in awhile. The most annoying part is that you always seem to get the worst reception at the places where you spend the most time, like your home or workplace. I get spotty reception in my bedroom at my current place, but it’s fine if I move into any of the other rooms.

So based on the points that I’ve covered, the only reasons why people still have landlines are to:

  • Ensure that you can order delivery from restaurants
  • Make it more confusing for friends and family to keep track of all of your phone numbers
  • Be able to talk anywhere in your home without losing reception, including the basement

With an estimated 20% of American households without a landline, I’m definitely in the minority, but as a Generation Y’er, most of my friends live a cell-only life too. So, I’m curious. What do the 80% who still have a landline use it for?

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