Opinion: When Power Fails, Landlines Prevail


Landline phone | Image by Katerina Graghine

The recent snowstorm that ravaged Texas has opened my eyes to the critical need for reliable phone service, particularly for our most vulnerable populations. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to keep my landline phone working when the power went out for four days, but most people don’t realize that their phone service is internet-based, leaving them isolated and unable to call for help or reach out to loved ones.

The end of landline service is a tragedy that has gone unnoticed by too many people. In our fast-paced digital world, we take for granted the ability to always connect with others, but when the power goes out, and the internet is down, we realize just how fragile our connections are. We need to fight to keep the landline alive for our safety and our emotional well-being.

I grew up with cell phones, but I still keep a landline phone in my home. I’m a younger person, but I know the value of having a backup plan. Soon, I’ll have children old enough to be at home without me, and I want them to be able to reach me in an emergency, but I don’t want to give them a cell phone until I’m sure they can handle the responsibility. A landline phone is the best of all worlds, providing a level of security that smartphones simply can’t match.

To my surprise, I discovered that traditional landline phone service is no longer available. My provider only offered internet-based “Voice Over Internet Protocol” (VoIP) phone service, which doesn’t work when the power goes out. I found an alternative called Community Phone, which connects my landline phone to cell towers. It’s not old-fashioned copper wire service, but it was the only service I could find that allowed me to use my landline without internet.

I’m grateful I had my landline phone when the ice storm hit, but I know that I was one of the lucky ones. Most people with home phone service, especially seniors and elderly folks, rely on their landline phones as their primary means of communication. They don’t realize that their phone service is internet-based and that they are left isolated when the power goes out, unable to call for help or reach out to loved ones.

The Federal Communications Commission issued a deregulation order that allows phone service providers to replace their copper wire phone service with fiber optic internet phone service. While this may seem like progress, it’s a step backward for our most vulnerable populations. The internet-based landline phone service is not a suitable alternative, particularly when there’s a power outage.

As we move further into this digital age, we must not forget the importance of landlines. They may seem outdated and old-fashioned but are still vital to our lives. They allow us to stay connected with loved ones, even in the darkest of times, and provide a level of security that smartphones simply can’t match.

We cannot allow landlines to disappear completely. We must fight to keep them alive for the sake of our safety and emotional well-being. When the lights go out and the world seems to be falling apart, a simple phone call can make all the difference. Let us not forget the value of landlines and fight to keep them alive.

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16 days ago

Thanks for this article.
I wasn’t aware that the landline went internet based. There always used to be some small current coming out of that landline.
I like many old school technologies.
I even write letters (in cursive) and mail them to friends and family.