NEW YORK (MainStreet) - For years I've been clinging to my landline service, until yesterday. The final straw? The $60.92 bill for Complete Choice Enhanced service including RingMaster, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Ring Control and a bunch of other services that I don't use, let alone understand. Not to mention the surcharges, taxes, fees - and "inside wire protection." What the hell is that?
I wasn't just paying for one line, but two. My wife and I had been telling ourselves that we needed the lines in order to have one for calls and one for faxes. She said that yesterday and I laughed. Faxes? Who sends faxes anymore?
And the only calls we were getting on the landline were from people wanting to sell us walk-in tubs, cruise vacations and time shares. Or, to notify us that our debit card from a credit union that we don't belong to had been locked. Of course, we're on the national Do Not Call List, but it seems solicitors use that as a phone book.
According to the Census Bureau, 89% of Americans had cell phones as of 2011; 71% also still had landlines. We carry our phones with us everywhere we go, so what's up with having one shackled to a kitchen counter at home?
Then my wife said, "Yeah, but what about 911 service?" Oh well, that. There is still this hang-up that people have -- that they need a landline associated to a fixed address in order to allow emergency 911 operators to know where they are in case they are unable to speak or something. That's a myth, right? Perhaps to a degree.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that over 70% of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones. But while the Commission says wireless phones can be an important public safety tool, they can also be a challenge for emergency response personnel.
"Since wireless phones are mobile, they are not associated with one fixed location or address," the FCC says on its website. "While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller's location, that information is not usually specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly."
But my smart phone knows where I am. Open a map app and the little glowing blue dot will show your exact location, even if you don't have a clue. Google absolutely follows me around everywhere. You mean to tell me the 911 operator doesn't have the technology to figure out where I am? Seems so.