My cell phone number is on my business card. It’s the only number I ever give out. It makes sense, because I’m routinely not in my home office when someone calls me; if I want a client to be able to reach me, my cell phone is the best bet.
Many web workers rely on their cell phones for work these days and some have even moved to handling their phone calls entirely through their computers, with services like Skype. There are plenty of ways to do without a landline at this point, which leads us to the question of whether it’s even necessary to pay for a telephone line anymore.
The Backup Landline
The best argument for keeping a landline for most freelancers or telecommuters is the fact that it can offer a backup way to get in touch with a client or an employer. If, for some reason, you don’t get cell phone reception in your home or your power goes out, you can still make a phone call. But for many web workers, picking up and moving your laptop to somewhere with reception or power is a valid option. If you aren’t tied to your home office for any other reason, a landline may not be a necessary emergency measure.
Furthermore, if you’ve got both VoIP on your computer and a cell phone, you already have a backup system in place: if you’ve got both a belt and suspenders, do you really need more?
Right now, I still technically have a phone line coming into my office. It isn’t hooked up to a handset, though — it’s plugged into my fax machine. Many companies still depend on fax machines in order to do business, although that number continues to drop each year. There are online options that can replace a fax machine and, personally, I’ll probably make the switch in the next month or two.
There are a few other systems that still require a phone line in order to work, such as certain security systems or health alert systems, however. If you rely on such a system, doing without a landline probably isn’t an option.
The Emergency Issue
The biggest drawback to doing without a landline is that in the event of an emergency, it can be harder to call 911 (or whatever your local emergency number is). The emergency response system depends on landlines to determine where to route calls: dialing 911 from a VoIP phone can end with you being routed to an emergency responder in another city. Some VoIP providers now have Enhanced 911 systems in place, which will correctly route your call, but not all providers have made the change over.
Emergency calls from cell phones can also be directed to regional emergency response centers, rather than local centers. The FCC recommends that anyone placing an emergency call from either a cell phone or through VoIP software should make a point of immediately telling the responder the location of the emergency.
Do You Need a Landline?
In the end, a landline may not be necessary for many web workers. There are exceptions, of course, and many people just feel more comfortable with having a landline in place. It isn’t necessary, however, and if you’re looking to cut back on your telephone service, the land line may be the best place to start. I know that my last landline — my fax line — is on its way out the door.
Do you still have a landline?