Posted by: Craig Mathias
cellular service, landlines, Magic Jack, Ooma, Skype, telephones, Verizon, Vonage
Since cellular handset and services prices have fallen so much, and since there is now no real functional difference between cellular and landline telephony, why, one might ask, have a landline at all? This is especially true for the small mobile business – if you’re mobile, the landline is little more than a cost center, isn’t it? Talking to you, not voice mail, is generally the object of someone placing a call to your business, and, besides, cellular has voice mail. So, dump the landline?
For many, this can, will, and does work fine. But the familiar problems of poor or variable coverage, variable voice quality, and battery life remain. I occasionally get voice mails from cellular callers totally unaware that I can’t make out a word they’re saying. I do a good number of Webinars every year, and the organizers of these events always remind me to use a landline phone for such mission-critical communications. And, finally, I personally have lousy coverage from all of the cellular carriers where I live. But, interestingly, I can now fix that – more on this soon.
And let’s not forget issues related to the cost of that landline – Verizon charges me around $40/month for my plain old telephone service (POTS), using the good old copper loop technology developed over a hundred years ago – and that’s $40 after a $20/month discount I got for complaining about the high price! With many potential sources of IP-based “phone lines” like service from cable suppliers, Magic Jack, Skype, Vonage, Ooma, and others, I think my copper loop may be doomed no matter what. One advantage POTS service has, though, is that it should continue to work during a power (or cable) failure – but, of course, most modern handsets require power, so the question is begged. And a cell phone can also be a reasonable backup even in areas of poor (but still some) coverage, so, assuming you have that spare battery I’ve previously recommended and keep it fully charged, you should be all set.
The right combination of telecommunications products and services for any SMB is often tough to determine, and a constant array of new capabilities and shifting prices and always-evolving technologies make the problem more challenging. Low-cost and regardless cost-effective solutions do exist, however, and going the cellular-only route is one that may work for you.