I recently received a “promise voucher” from my local cable company. If I acted now, or relatively soon, they promised me a land line for $25 per month for life. And if that weren’t enough reason to jump on this deal, they were throwing in unlimited local and nationwide calling; caller ID, call waiting, those sorts of extras; Emergency 911 services that automatically display my address when I call; and a free transfer of my current phone number. I’m not sure if they meant my current cell phone number but that point is moot. I won’t be buying Titanic tickets, even at half price.
I’m venerable enough to remember the days when a person only received local calls for free. Long distance calls (which could be as far away as across the street because of the strict lines demarcated service areas) cost more the longer the distance. Then about twenty years ago, land line phone companies started offering local regional calls. For a premium, of course. After all, families started spreading out. It only made sense to offer such a service. Of course, the fact that cell phones just arriving on the horizon had nothing to do with it. Eventually, service broadened even more, cross country plans became available.
Fast forward to today with the ubiquity of cell phones, and it seems they’re practically giving the service away. They have to! Cell phones have made cross country plans the modern expectation. The funny thing is they gloss over the fact that the service is really a bundling offer that requires the subscriber to also purchase cable services. Either internet or television or both. Well, no surprise there. There’s always a catch and who doesn’t subscribe to internet or cable TV these days? Even I, who hasn’t owned a TV my entire adult life, subscribes for the internet service.
Huzzah! That means I can get cheap phone service as well.
Alas, another catch is that this phone service isn’t really through the land lines, it’s over the cable lines. Duh! It’s from the cable companies, so this isn’t really a secret. But it does mean that if the electric is out, or if the cable is out, you get no service. Whereas with a true land line, you usually get phone service during power outages.
“PsShaw!” you say. “How often does that happen?”
Honestly, when the power goes out. Often, that’s when you need the phone service, so phone over the cable lines is no bonus. I’ve never been a fan for this very reason. Thus, when you need phone service the most, you’ll still be relying on a cell phone to get help anyway.
The fact that they’re trying to push this service for such a cheap rate tells me land lines are in trouble and won’t be lasting much longer anyway. Sure, they’ll probably be available for some time, but as time passes I don’t see the service getting any better. It’ll have more and more technological restrictions. And honestly, if I maintain this service for thirty years and my cable company plans to scrap it altogether are they going to update and upgrade everything because they promised me the service at this rate for life?
Obviously, the answer is no, this rate is only good for as long as they want bother offering the service. They have no more loyalty to me than I have for them.
If you haven’t given up the land line and switched to cellular completely. Now may be the time. The telco & cable companies are tipping their hand by sending out such desperate offers. Land lines are a sinking ship.