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Ain’t (old) technology great?

old-timey phone
Image courtesy of Stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A couple of years ago, we joined the multitude of people abandoning their land line telephone service. After spending the time and money running Cat 5 wire throughout our house, we haven’t used any of it since going with a mobile hub for our Internet and phone. A single electrical outlet is all we need– one plug for the hub and one for our cordless phone (one base connects three handsets). And we are able to connect to the Internet from anywhere in the house without the need for any other switch or router. Seems like an ideal solution considering we live in an area with few broadband options. Hardwired broadband (DSL, cable) is not available where we live. We are limited to fixed-point wireless or mobile broadband– and fixed-point wireless has not really been an option because of the numerous trees in our area.

We had an outdoor modem for a while and tried it in a couple of locations but never had a reliable connection. So when that company offered the 3G mobile hub, we tried that instead. And it has worked well. Our connection is much more reliable and speeds are fast enough to suit our needs. If we stay within 10 GB of transfer, we pay the same as we had been paying for the outdoor modem (which is now obsolete anyway). Plus we added home phone service for about a third of what we were paying for our land line so we were saving money.

So why did I call the phone company last week to inquire about re-installing land line service?

Yet another fixed-point wireless tower

Another company has put up another tower in our area. Instead of advertising their maximum speeds, they guarantee their minimum speed thereby eliminating the main complaint against this technology. If we are able to get this service (we’ll know after a site survey later this month), we will cancel our mobile hub and therefore need another option for our phone service.

Higher bandwidth limits

For the same price ($50) we currently pay for 10 GB of transfer, we will get 60 GB. If we used 60GB of transfer now with our 3G service, we would pay a whopping $500 because of overage charges. We were able to stay within the lower limits in the past, but our daughter now has a iPod and we are thinking about getting a second laptop. Our needs are changing and 3G will simply be too expensive.

The reliability of a land line

Dropped calls and call quality have been issues since going with 3G home phone service. If the power goes out, so does the phone service. And whenever we do use the telephone, we lose our Internet connection. All these problems are eliminated with a traditional land line. Ain’t technology great?

Safety and peace of mind

I briefly considered simply getting a cell phone for myself. My wife has had one for years but I never really saw the need to have one myself. For about the same price as a land line, I could join the 20th century (what? It’s the 21st century now?) and always be reachable. At least when the phone is charged. But what if my wife and I are both out and our daughter is home alone? What if there’s an emergency? She will need a cell phone, too– something we really don’t want her to have yet. Having a home phone, at least for us, is still necessary.

And what if we can’t get the point-to-point wireless connection….?

We are still going to go back to having a land line telephone. We will likely sign up for mobile broadband with another company currently offering higher bandwidth limits. Maybe by the end of the three year contract, there will be yet another option available to us.

Update– August 12, 2012

Installation was successful! We now have new fixed-point wireless internet connectivity. So far, so good. Speeds are comparable to what we had with 3G.

We are back with our local phone company, tethered to a land line. Call quality is so much better than we had with the 3G hub. The phone company has agreed to replace the cable going to the house (ours has been repaired at least twice and call quality deteriorates drastically in wet weather). The new cable will be installed overhead, rather than buried, to avoid future damage.

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