Do you really still need a home phone? The short answer is yes. Here’s why:
1. They sound better
In our tests, the voice quality of cordless phones for talking and listening was generally better than that of the best cell phones. With newer models, you get less interference with devices such as microwave ovens because they use a different frequency. Newer models also tend to have relatively long talk times, so you won’t run out of juice in the middle of ordering take-out. You can use some models as close-range walkie-talkies in the house.
2. They improve safety
Cell phones use a GPS-based method to report your location in a 911 emergency. That’s a very good thing when you’re on the road, but they don’t indicate which floor you’re on in a high-rise building. A home phone is connected to your address, including apartment number, so the 911 operator knows exactly where to send help even if you can’t talk. Traditional copper-wire phone service automatically indicates your precise location. With VoIP service, the provider must get your address when you activate service. Just be sure to notify the provider if that changes. Another landline advantage: Some home-security systems may require a home phone line to monitor fire- and burglar-alarm sensors. Without one, some companies will install a special device that communicates with their office via a cellular connection, but that will cost extra. ADT’s Cell Guard, for example, can cost $100 or more to install and can add $15 or more per month to your bill. To ensure you’ll have a working phone during a power outage, choose a model with a corded handset on the base or battery backup—and make sure the batteries are charged. If you have cable or fi ber-based phone service, that will require a backup battery as well.
3. You don’t save much when you cut service
Dropping a phone line from a telecom bundle might save you only $5 or so a month. That’s because the discount for an Internet and TV double play is usually less than for a triple play with phone service.
4. Cordless phones can help your cell phone
Certain cordless models can stand in for your cell phone. By placing a cell phone near the cordless phone’s base, you can access your wireless service using Bluetooth technology and use a cordless handset to make or take cell calls. In addition to the convenience of using one handset for all your calls, you might get better cell-phone reception at home. (For example, if you don’t get good cell-phone reception in your basement, you might be able to make or take cell calls from there using a cordless handset.) It can also save you money if you’ve used up your monthly allotment of cell-phone minutes. Certain models take that Bluetooth connection even further by notifying you on a cordless handset of incoming texts on your cell phone.