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Does it still make sense to keep my home telephone line?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 27, 2013 6:48 AM PST

Does it still make sense to keep my home telephone line alive?

Hi, I hope you can help me decide whether I should terminate my
telephone land line or not. Both my wife and I have had cell
phones for several years now and it's safe to say that all we get
on our land line phone are calls from salespeople trying to sell
me time shares or ask me to donate money to their organizations.
We are now retired and on a fixed income and we are trying to
eliminate any additional expenses and the land line is one of
them. Does it make sense to keep our land line anymore since all
our friends and family call us on our cell phones? Are there any
safety or emergency concerns to not having a land line? Are there
any benefits to having one? Please help me with this decision, my
wife and I would really appreciate some advice.

--Submitted by Steven D.
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I gave mine up long ago.....
by birdmantd Forum moderator / November 27, 2013 7:55 AM PST

Probably 5 years ago I cancelled my home line and use my cell phone exclusively. I say get rid of the home phone, no real need if you are comfortable using the cell phones.

No safety concerns because modern cell phones can be easily located if you dial 911. I can't see any real benefit of keeping a land line in this day and age.

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by bigjohnl / December 6, 2013 10:07 AM PST

Cell phones can be easily located if you dial 911.....NOT true at all.

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by heig / December 6, 2013 11:05 AM PST
In reply to: Keep?

Where did you get the info that 911 calls cannot be tracked??? Please cite your source. Thanks.

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reply ton 'what'?
by Ari Britt / December 6, 2013 9:20 PM PST
In reply to: What????

Only THIS WEEK the FDA issued guidelines to improve cell phone tracking in recognition that the 'current' system is not nearly accurate enough..

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(NT) that should have read FCC, not FDA LOL, too early in the mor
by Ari Britt / December 6, 2013 9:23 PM PST
In reply to: reply ton 'what'?
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Waddya mean?
by JCitizen / December 6, 2013 11:12 AM PST
In reply to: Keep?

I live the the dad-burn desert, and we get instant recognition where we are with a cell phone! The FCC and Homeland Security required that capability years ago! What swamp do you live in?

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Not every were.WNC
by Debra Ammons / December 6, 2013 1:34 PM PST
In reply to: Waddya mean?

There is huge areas of Blue Ridge mountains around Asheville and Knoxville TN were no cell phone service. One place is KOA campground at Cherokee NC parts of Murphy NC once out of town limits..No cell phone for miles in many places. Verizon has more then most. ATT has a little connection as well. So there is no US Law saying companies have to have service. We have Tracfone/straight talk and have gone as far as 1/2 hour with 1 bar or 0. And even though Obama gave 9 million to get fast internet that money never hit the WNC mountains once out of city limits.

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by rluckw / December 6, 2013 8:49 PM PST
In reply to: Not every were.WNC

If you do not have a home in this area, how will having a home landline will help you in this situation?
I'm sure if you're travelling, this is important information, but that's not the question here.

Common sense would dictate that if you live in (have a home in) an area with poor cell phone service, then keep your landline.

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wrond post
by Debra Ammons / December 6, 2013 1:38 PM PST
In reply to: Waddya mean?

Got goofed up meant to reply to why have home phone not to your post JCitizen

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by barth1121 / December 6, 2013 2:08 PM PST
In reply to: Waddya mean?

There is no such requirement! There are large areas of Texas with NO cell phone service!

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Oh Well!
by JCitizen / December 6, 2013 4:52 PM PST
In reply to: Wrong!

I remember when we used to do "rabbit hunts" on citizen's band emergency channel nine and find people in just minutes - who needs high tech like we have now?

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It's not a question of need
by B1nmidm0 / December 6, 2013 8:56 PM PST
In reply to: Oh Well!

It's not about need, it's about enhancing life. We lived just fine with fireplaces and candles but then the lightbulb and central heating came along. Is there really that much difference between tech that enriches our lives and upgrading from candles to the electric lightbulb? All comforts are about figuring how when and if we need them. Just because we've got central A/C doesn't mean we can't open up our windows and enjoy the fresh air. The same goes with tech. There's always an off button but "overall" I'd call our tech world simply wonderful. The primary reason I have my iPhone is because it's great when I take a tumble from my wheelchair and need emergency help. Other than that, I NEVER use the thing by the way. For others who use cell phones for ALL their needs, I'd call this proof the way we live keeps changing.

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We need a tongue in cheek emoticon!
by JCitizen / December 7, 2013 3:44 AM PST
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And you actually believe the FCC and DHS?!
by bullfrog71 / December 7, 2013 5:55 AM PST
In reply to: Waddya mean?

Politics and face saving. "You're doing a good job, Brownie!"
There are huge areas that don't have cell coverage. Many parts of northern Wisconsin don't. Many remote areas in the west really don't. ("Really don't" texting may work but voice; no.)

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cnn : Cellphones Leave Gaps for Emergency ServicesMobile Tr
by krmatt / December 7, 2013 8:10 AM PST
In reply to: Waddya mean?

Cellphones Leave Gaps for Emergency Services
Mobile Tracking Technology Provides Just a Rough Estimate of a 911 Caller's Location
via cnn : Police and others say 911 dispatchers are having trouble sending help to callers who use cellphones. The reason: unlike a landline, cellphones provide just a rough estimate—with a possible radius of a few hundred yards—of the caller's location.

Data released this summer renewed attention to the problem and set off a debate over the adequacy of the tracking data that cellphone carriers share with emergency dispatchers.

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Re:cnn : Cellphones Leave Gaps for Emergency ServicesMobile
by dave1973 / December 8, 2013 4:12 PM PST

I had that experience when I called for help, & my phone call was on a tower that was 4 - 5 miles away, & that was the tower that my call was detected from, resulting in having to tell the operator where I actually was located. The built-in GPS got my location wrong, that I got the wrong 911 service. That one tower covered sections of 2 counties, resulting in getting 911 from the community that the tower was located in, rather than 911 from the unincorporated area I was located at.

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Which cellular carrier were you using ??
by birdmantd Forum moderator / December 8, 2013 9:52 PM PST

I am guessing you weren't with Verizon since if you had called 911 from one of their handsets it would have relied on GPS location and not tower location.

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Now now...
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 9, 2013 1:42 AM PST
In reply to: Waddya mean?

Let keep the discussion civil, no need for personal attacks. We are here to discuss the question at hand and if someone posts something that maybe inaccurate, let's try to correct it so that it is accurate for all of us to learn from.


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Yes, it is absolutely true
by birdmantd Forum moderator / December 6, 2013 11:51 AM PST
In reply to: Keep?

Many, not all, cellular providers have built in GPS capabilites for E911 (Enhanced 911). All carriers were required by the FCC a few years ago to integrate E911 in their handsets. This is an informative article about it from wikipedia:

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by JCitizen / December 6, 2013 12:46 PM PST

That's what I'm talking about - but the bird brains still lowered their thumbs at me! Why be political correct about something so important! Confused

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Who else can track you...
by BudParker / December 6, 2013 2:51 PM PST
In reply to: Yep!

911 operators can locate your position. So can a huge variety of Federal Agency's even if your phone is off...

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by JCitizen / December 6, 2013 4:48 PM PST
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You watch to much TV
by geparks / December 6, 2013 9:01 PM PST

Operators can ONLY track 911 cell phone calls IF you have a smart phone with with that feature turned on. Just last week on our local news (central coast of Calif) it took over an hour to locate
a 911 caller. You should have learned by now, what you see on TV is not real, that's why it's called entertainment.
Call your phone co, most offer 'life line service'.
One additional thought, there is no such thing as 'privacy' on a cell phone. Any one can get, or make, a scanner and listen in.

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Scanning cell calls? Not for 20 years.
by mikethaler / December 7, 2013 6:18 AM PST
In reply to: You watch to much TV

The old AMPS (analogue) systems were shut off about 20 years ago. Everything is now digital - no way to listen in on cell calls OTA. The NSA taps in at the processing centers.

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Re: Scanning cell calls? Not for 20 years.
by dave1973 / December 8, 2013 4:03 PM PST

Actually, cellphone companies kept AMPS service going until April 2008, when the government allowed cellphone companies to turn it off. Verizon went to CDMA (their digital) only phones by 2005 or 2006. I had a CDMA/AMPS phone in both 2002 (when I got my first cellphone), & again when I upgraded in 2004. By 2006, I did not see a single Verizon phone that had AMPS on it. While AMPS wasn't heavily used, it was still being used, until the wireless companies got the green light to turn it off, though they could have continued to use it after April 2008, if they desired (Verizon & AT&T wanted AMPS turned off, so the bandwidth could be allocated for digital, with Verizon for CDMA & AT&T for GSM). BTW, digital can be hacked, with GSM being able to be hacked even easier than CDMA, since GSM is open source, while Qualcomm owns the patents for CDMA, though it's not foolproof either.

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Digital or not is not the problem
by verdyp / December 9, 2013 3:11 AM PST

Whever the phone uses digital or numeric signal over radio to communicate is not relevant. In both cases, if the phone or smartphone can locate itself, it will be able to transmit this position as part of the encoded data transmitted to the carrier when initiating the call.

But the problem is still: can the phone correctly position itself ?
The right answer is NO. In msot cases, even if it integrates the GPS receiver, it will be unusable if you are not in a location where you can receive at least 3 GPS satellites. This includes uses of your phone **inside buildings** or even outside in streets bordered by high buildings, that are hiding the signal.

So the best your phone will have is the last position recorded (if it's not too old).
If you phone got shutdown because lack of battery and you recherche it and then switch it on again, the phoen will have NO valid position in memory. This position will be too old.

So all the cell carrier will know is the location of the cell antennas that your phone can detect and the position of the antenna on which you are connected and authenticated to initiate the call.

If your cell phone can only detect a single carrier antenna, your position will only be known to be within the coverage radius of this antenna (this antenna position could be several kilometers/miles away from where you are with your phone).

If your phone can detect several antennas (often not more than 3, and most often only 2), it will just divide the radius of search by 2 or 3 at most (using triangulation) but this is still not an absolute precision because various terrain effects affect the signals of cell towers you can receive and communicate with. This often increasess the radius by several hundreds meters.

So if you have no direct visibility with the sky where you can track GPS satellites, you'll be positioned within a radius about 2.5 kilometers or 2 miles. It's not enough for emergency services to locate you rapidly.

If you just turned on your phone in a place where GPS can be received, your phone may also needs about 2 minutes to be fully located by receiving all candidate GPS satellites. Ig you initate a call in that time, your GPS position will still not be known and not transmitted to the carrier, so you'll be located only by the cell tower positions on which your phone has been authetnticated.

Finally, not all mobile phones have GPS receivers. Only smartphones have it always.

There are still lots of people not wanting to pay for a costly smartphone, and that also want to keep a cheap mobile phone whose battery will not be gully drained after just a few hours. Old mobile phones can still remain usable for a full week or more without being recharged.

Smartphones need to be recharged at least once each day, and often several times a day if you use it for data communications and if you are in a place with a weak reception of cell signals, or if you have turned on the Wifi reception, or if you have viewed a video on your smartphone. So people frequently have now a secondary phone in addition to their smartphone or tablet.

If people start having tablets, those tablets can do everything except performing calls. These people will want to dump their too costly smartphone and will want to keep only a basic mobile phone, without data communication (because data communications is lready in their tablet).

"Old" GSM/CDMA phones are definitely not over. They are still sold actively and there are still new models (and notably they are bought by emergency people, because of their MUCH better battery autonomy, thanks to absence of complex applications, or color display and embedded CPU/APU that constantly drain too much energy when the phone is on). Some models can keep their battery charge usable for a full month, even when you use it to perform one or two hours of calls each month with them (it is completely impossible with "modern" smartphones that constantly need to be plugged to a wire and that are absolutely not "mobile"!!!).

For this reason, we cannot still replace other commucation means by a smartphone on a mobile line. We still need a land line because smartphones will be frequently unusable. They can't even be switched on when they are plugged to a charger, if their battery is still too low, notably if your phone switched off automatically: you'll have to wait for at least half an hour.

If your life depends on a call to 911 emergency service, you'll certainly won't want to wait for an half hour after locating a place where tou can plug your discharged phone. You'll want to be able to use a land-line phone.

Same remark if your land-line phone service is just a VoIP service: if your cable or DSL or satellite modem cannot synchronize to the Internet service provider, you cannot perform any call.

And you'll want to be able to use classic non-VoIP calls over the analog land-line service which is extremely reliable (this basic analog service over land-lines should now be free for everyone and should be able to transport calls to any emergency service, without even having to pay for the call or introducing any coin in pay-phones. you should be able to use any line, even a line owned by someone else).

All ISPs and cellphone carriers should transport calls to emergency services, independantly of the status of the subscription. This basic service should remain available even if you've cancelled the regular subscription service (carriers shoudl not turn off these lines physically, even if you can no longer use them to perform calls to other destinations or receive calls because these lines don't have a public number; but emergency services should still be able to recall these lines even if they have no public number).

On a mobile phone or smartphone, you should be able to call emergency services from any accessible carrier (even if you have not sobscribed this one), using the best carrier you can detect in the location where you are to save battery power during such calls.

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I don't think that is how it works...
by JCitizen / December 7, 2013 11:29 AM PST
In reply to: You watch to much TV

I live in hicksville and our law enforcement can track ANY cell phone that works on the now supported frequency, and they've been able to do that for years now. I may be possible to accidentally disable this feature but I've not read on that problem in the news services that go into the nuts and bolts of how this system works.

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"Smart phone" not required... they are all smart enough
by heig / December 9, 2013 2:07 AM PST
In reply to: You watch to much TV

Basic (not just "smart phones") have all had GPS capability for some time. You can turn off some parts of the GPS tracking, but not to 911. We really have some bad info flowing around here. As far as privacy with almost everything nowadays we have to ask, "What's that?" This has rapidly turned into a very uncomfortable world for the paranoid.

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That's plain wrong
by verdyp / December 9, 2013 1:07 PM PST

And even if there's a GPS device in it, this does not mean that it is usable (notably it does not work within buildings, most of the time, and also not in narrow streets bordered by high buildings, and frequently also within dense forests, or corridors in mountainous regions (becaise the device cannot any the GPS satellite).

If you xan still phone in these areas, that's because the cell phone uses frequencies that can pass through walls, or can be reflected by verious surfaces.

But reflected signals cannot work with GPS where you need a direct line of vibility to make time measurements. So the GPS satellites are emitting their signals using frequencies in a higher band which is less subject to be reflected by obstacles on earth, but that also cannot enter easily within buildings.

If you're using the smartphone, it will just transmit to the operator only its last known GPS position, provided it is not too old (after 4 to 12 hours the position is invalid anyway as the position will no longer be correlated with satellites). Also this position will be unknown if the phone has been turned off or rebooted.

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I don't think the 911 system is GPS dependent..
by JCitizen / December 12, 2013 1:09 AM PST
In reply to: That's plain wrong

Implementation is as wide and varied as the number of communitites, and some even use geo location techniques, which even Apple phone use instead of GPS. Here are some of the criteria:

Location is an important concept in the way that the Enhanced 9-1-1 system works. Location determination depends upon the Automatic Location Information (ALI) database which is maintained on behalf of local governments by contracted private third parties generally the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC). The ALI database is used to both route the call to the appropriate PSAP and when the call arrives, the ALI database is used to determine the location of the caller.

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