Thursday, 10 January 2013

The phone line is dead?

I am pondering doing a survey on this, but really, who uses a "traditional phone line" these days.

On my limited sample of friends and family it is rare. Everyone has a mobile to actually make phone calls these days!
  1. People have no phone line and just use mobiles
  2. People have a line, but it is only there for broadband
  3. People have a line, maybe for broadband and perhaps "just in case", e.g. calling 999, if mobile breaks, etc.
  4. People use VoIP (probably over broadband that uses a line)
  5. Some people really use a phone line to actually make and receive calls!
I wonder if phone lines are becoming just a legacy thing now. I don't even have copper pairs to my house.

40 comments:

  1. I'm in your category 3. BT line gets used for emergencies or if your VoIP is misbehaving.

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  3. I'm #5 (and an A&A broadband customer). If I'm at home I'll use the land line for calls almost every time. Apart from anything else the quality is better even if the mobile has a decent signal. Meanwhile I almost never make voice calls on my mobile, that is used for data.

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  4. I'm in category 3: The phone line's just for broadband, emergencies, and for phoning for takeaways. I never give out the landline number if I can help it. This means that if it rings, it's either for the wife, or it's a PPI or other scam. Either way, I can safely ignore it.

    I'd get rid of the voice service, but a friend of mine (who used to work at BT) says that some of the BT engineers only bother checking for a dial tone when looking for unused pairs at the cabinet. I don't know how valid this is these days, but I don't want to lose my broadband due to that.

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    1. That wouldn't be Cris would it? I had a pair of 'broadband only' phone lines from A&A, they still had a dial tone and, ISTR, numbers that you could still ring from an ordinary phone or mobile. You just couldn't dial out, I always wondered if you could call 999 on them but never had cause to find out.

      One of the lines was up at a transmitter site, so I used the VoIP feature of the DrayTek modem/router to allow me to call out on an A&A VoIP account or direct to the other line back at the office. It was the Tx 'hotline' as you only needed to pick the phone up and press '1'.... followed by the '#' sign.

      I'm a #3 and in almost the same situation as yourself (it's either scammers or parents who call the land line). The most useful thing I did was get caller ID put on the land line, now we can see at a glance if it's worth picking up or not. I keep thinking about getting one of those boxes that just hangs the line up if it sees calls from withheld or international callers.

      My parents used to call my land line from theirs, but they almost always seem to call mobile to mobile now, most likely because they have a ludicrous amount of free minutes and texts on their phones.

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    2. Pretty sure you can make "free" calls from an AAISP line, as far as I'm aware they only bar chargeable calls, so this should allow 999 to be dialled as it's "free"

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  5. Pretty much #2, with the very occasional "I've lost my mobile somewhere and need to ring it to find it" call. Wouldn't really miss not having it though if it wasn't needed for ADSL.

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  6. The battery on the landline lasts longer, and the calls are cheaper. We pay extra so that all UK calls are free, and this makes my wife's hour-long daily chats to her family a lot cheaper than they would be on any mobile.

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  7. I'm in category 2
    No PSTN phone (I don't even have an analogue phone for testing, I have to borrow one!)
    Just VoIP & mobiles

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  8. All depends on the call.

    For calls to geographical landline numbers (01, 02, 03), 0800, 0845 and 0870, I use the BT landline because none of these cost any extra and as David says, the quality is better than mobile.

    For calls to 0844 numbers such as the doctors, I use A&A VOIP via the same Siemens Gigaset phone. These are extortionate on mobile and even on BT have a high 'connection' charge. Only problem I have is that DTMF signalling doesn't always work.

    I also use A&A VOIP for calls to other numbers that I require a recording of.

    For calls to mobile numbers I use the inclusive minutes on my mobile, because BT charge extra. I have 300 minutes/month and rarely use any more that a third of that.

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  9. There are large tracks of the country that do not have a mobile signal. Sometimes in surprising places, e.g. around eight miles north of Reading, vast parts of South Oxfordshire have no reliable signal. I use the Vodaphone femto cell to get around this. My wife refuses to use a mobile phone under any circumstances. I have no idea what proportion of the population will be like that, but it seems like there would be a technophobe holdout group that needed land lines.

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  10. I'm with David. I have a real phone line, I use for phone calls. I'm an A&A customer. Mobile signal quality just isn't up to it in Suffolk.

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  11. I have 3 lines at home, one has a phone connected for 999 _and_ for a twice monthly free call that BT require me to make otherwise they charge me more?!

    Rest is VoIP... then rarely mobile.

    My dad, at his house, has a land line for family use.. and VoIP for his business and 'his' friends.

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  12. Mine is just for adsl now.
    I get enough included calls on my mobile tariff that I mostly want for data that I just use those for outgoing calls, and a few months ago I redirected my home number to my mobile and found it convenient enough I never stopped, even though it does cost me more than I'd like.

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  13. #4, now finally replacing the ISDN line - the volume of calls we made just didn't justify the line rental but we did and do still make landline calls even though we both have mobiles. The ISDN line was originally installed for telecommuting back in the days when that was the fastest way for me to get connected and sort-of stayed on (far too long, though).

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  14. 4 and still occasional 5 coupled with occasional need to fax... would, if I courd do that without a phone line proper, switch the line away from BT...

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  15. I'm a mixture of 3 and 4. I have an A&A line which doesn't allow outgoing calls (save for 999 and freefone 080/050 numbers). Everything else goes via VoIP (we ported our old VM number to A&A).

    I have a small FreePBX setup at home and it records all incoming/outgoing calls and the number of calls we get is very small and the number of outgoing is even smaller as we use our mobiles for everything due to the inclusive minutes we get. No point in paying for calls (even local) ones when they're included in the mob package.

    Clever of the non-cable broadband providers to require people to have a phone line otherwise I'd imagine a lot of people would dump their home line rental.

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  16. I think there is a danger of assuming everybody else is in the same box you are.

    Stating "I wonder if phone lines are becoming just a legacy thing now. I don't even have copper pairs to my house." is a non sequitur - you own an ISP, it is entirely reasonable for you to have fibre into your house. Are you really suggesting that Joe Public could do the same?

    Outside my circle of geek friends, I can't think of a single person I know who doesn't have (and still use) a landline.

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    1. No, but I know people who are not geeks and just use mobiles because they have no money, for example!

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    2. But are these home owners (or renters), or are they living in somebody else's house?

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    3. or do they all have iPhones on silly contracts? That seems to be pretty common:

      "I have no money. Ooh the new iPhone is out. I'll just pay £30 a month for that."



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  17. I asked on my journal, and got dozens of responses to a poll:
    http://andrewducker.livejournal.com/2848829.html

    So far, 2/3 of them have a landline that gets used for phone calls. 42% of them use the landline for the majority of their home phone calls.

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    1. And that 2/3 figure is from an audience of people who are, presumably, au fait with the Internet and other modern things.

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  18. I'm basically #1. Technically we have a (Virgin) phone line, but the cordless phone that's plugged into it stopped working and I've not felt any particular need to replace it...

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  19. I'm basically a #1. Technically we have a (Virgin) phone line, but the phone that was plugged into it broke months ago and I've never felt the need to replace it...

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  20. I would also add my Sister's situation which is rather different.

    When they moved into their current house, the house is that far from the Warrington exchange that speeds would be sub 500k. Since they both have mobiles and there is no cable option, they didn't bother with a landline, but used a 3G service until a local WiFi provider Vispa came on line.

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  21. If I didn't work from home I'd be a #2 (because we're all antisocial bas****s in this house :)), but because I work from home I'm a #5

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  22. I'm really number 2 - I do call my mum once a week on the landline... because I get it "free". Otherwise I get incoming calls for double glazing, loft insulation, etc. I would do without easily if not for the broadband - in fact when I lived in Farnborough I only had cable broadband and no phone (but still had a phone number?). I have VoIP which I very rarely use, with mobile for the rest.

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  23. I have a BT phone line, but don't actually have an analogue phone to plug into it.

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  24. #4 mostly, still receiving on #5. Mobiles are for data mostly/only, voice quality far too low for any professional or long conversation. Just good enough for short conversations while mobile.
    Wouldn't mind getting rid of copper for proper fiber, but BT insist 20CN is the way to go for me :-(

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  25. We have a BT phone line and use it for calls (except to mobile phones).

    Reasons:

    Mobile phone signal here is lacking and only works in a few places in the house.

    The battery in the DECT handsets seems to last forever.

    Call quality is much better

    "It just works"

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  26. What annoys me is that VM do not make it clear that the prices they advertise for their bundles do not include the required charge for a VM phone line. I am moving house soon. The house is already cabled, but if I want to get cable broadband only they will charge a 50 quid installation fee. If I get a phone line as well the fee is waived. (note this will be a new contract, not moving an existing one).

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  27. Still got a telephone line into the house. It handles most outgoing calls that my wife makes but its real functions as far as I'm concerned are for the two sky boxes to plug into and as part of the contingency plan. That 'phone line will still work when the power goes out - that's why there's still one corded handset plugged into it. If that line goes down we have mobiles and a VoIP line (that one's there because I can).

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  28. I only tend to use mine for 0870/0845 and 0800 as these tend to be expensive from the mobile.

    otherwise have stupid amounts of mobile minutes included with my mobile plan, only reason I'm not on a cheaper plan is because I use a fair bit of mobile data.

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  29. Definitely number 5. I have a mobile phone but only use it for emergencies, and as a reminder-diary! It's PAYG and I put £5 on it several months ago and at least half of it is still on there. It narks me to have to use it once in a while so I don't lose the balance.

    I *hate* using mobile phones, even the shortest dropout really annoys me, especially if I'm having a technical discussion. Also, when did they decide that a flat plate is a suitable way to transfer sound to the ear? I use a "proper" phone where the earpiece cuts out extraneous sound - it's so much less stress when you can hear the other person clearly.

    Also, I don't like the idea of all that RF anergy close to some of my important organs! When I got my first mobile (an "Orange Nokia") I would get a pain in my right eye if I used the phone on that side - for some reason it was OK if I held the phone to my left ear. Worrying!

    I'm not a luddite - I believe in using the most appropriate technology for the job, and phone lines weren't broke, so didn't need fixing. The only thing wrong is the exhorbitant costs BT charge these days. I really should change to another suppier, but I'm staying on a copper pair for voice calls as long as possible.
    - Howard

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  30. Number 5 for me too.

    I have phones in most rooms of the house (and am thinking of putting a point in the loo) so can be pretty sure of hearing them ring, unlike the feeble mobile which might well be in another room and thus unheard. No, I don't keep it about my person all the time.

    The sound quality is so much better as well. Its bad enough when talking from a landline to a mobile, but mobile to mobile is often head-bangingly awful.

    The mobile has its place, for example if my wife wants to ask me to bring stuff back from the allotment.

    However I am 70 and therefore probably more representative of old farts rather than telephone users in general.

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  31. I'd say #2 as I don't have any need for a landline as mobile works fine for me and I make very few calls (have never liked being on the phone and only use it if I have to). I have a "local" aaisp voip landline number which diverts to my mobile if I ever have go give someone a contact number.

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  32. #2 and #5. One dedicated line for broadband. On the other line I still enjoy a very good bundle with free national and a generous quota of international calls. Calls from abroad to a landline may be somewhat cheaper than to a mobile and I seem to keep changing my mobile number so it makes it easier for friends to find me. Mobile coverage can also be a problem, when I was on Vodafone I frequently could use the phone to take photos of Canary Wharf but not to make or receive calls.

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  33. #3 and #5, I will use it for 0800 and 0845 calls. But ofcom soon will be making 0800 free on mobiles making #5 for me quite rare. In my opinion landlines are much less competitive than mobiles now days, a PAYG mobile has no line rental at all and my contract mobile sim has a deal no landline provider could ever match. Plus the fact your mobile can be used anywhere, whilst the landline is just where the landline is.

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