Do I need a landline?

Should you think about ditching your home phone altogether or is there life in the tried-and-true service yet?
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02.What are my options?

Voice and internet alternatives

 phone-line-cutVoIP (Voice over Internet Technology) has proven a popular low-cost alternative to both mobile and landline phones. VoIP technology allows you to make voice calls over the internet. Voice conversations travel through the internet as data packages and can connect with a landline or mobile phone. However, like mobile technologies, VoIP has also been rocked by reliability issues, and providers make no promises about your being able to get through when you need to. Shortly before Christmas last year, VoIP application Skype dropped out worldwide – not the first time the service came to a standstill. That said, VoIP services have become a critical low-cost component of many Australians’ telecom packages and can be used with a VoIP phone, bundled with naked DSL or used through a web-based application (like Skype) on a computer or smartphone. Some plans that combine Naked DSL with a VoIP service offer free national calls to landlines in addition to cheap calls overseas.

Another option is a SkypeIn number, which allows you to make long-distance national calls at local rates (calls between Sydney and Melbourne, for instance, would be charged as if you were calling from within Melbourne if you purchased a Melbourne-based number).

Naked DSL provides most of the advantages of a fixed broadband line without the monthly line rental charge, but it too is not as reliable as a fixed line.
Naked DSL makes a landline internet connection possible without having to pay for telephone line rental. But beware: the ADSL still runs through the landline and activating it can be costly. One CHOICE staffer’s attempt to set up a naked DSL account with TPG hit a roadblock when Telstra informed him he would have to pay a connection fee as well as line rental for at least three months. Another said dumping his landline was “a big hassle” including hours on the phone with telecom providers, long waits for technicians to show up, and incorrect billing from Telstra that took months to get right.

Should I ditch my landline?

Before deciding whether or not to ditch your landline, undertake a rigorous assessment of your telecommunications profile, including where you live, how many calls you make, and where you call. If you’re a fairly heavy user of your home phone and internet – and reliability is important – keeping your landline may make good sense. (And if you’re a habitual long-distance caller and have an internet connection, getting a handle on VoIP can save you money whether you keep your landline or not.) But if you’re a light user who lives in a metropolitan area and rarely exceed your monthly mobile phone allowance, it may be time to let your landline go.

Number crunch

82% - The percentage of adults with a landline phone who are also paying for a mobile service and internet connection, as of April 2010.

33% - The percentage by which the number of consumers aged 18-24 who chose not to get a landline connection increased in the 12 months to November 2010.

14% - The percentage of consumers who only have a mobile and no landline.


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