Friday, May 21, 2021

Tech Adventures in Ditching a Landline

 I don't know who phone companies think they can sell a $45/mo landline to, but that's what it cost us once the fiber optic people showed up with the fourteenth* batch of dudes and we cancelled the terrible DSL.  It's not even my dad's generation (he just turned 70!) because they cancelled theirs a year ago.

Anyhow. What I really wanted was a) the same phone number as before, so my in laws can call my cellphone -less spouse, and b) the ability to call 911 easily, for the kids. Also, I wanted to keep our normal cordless phones because they're easier for the kids. We live in a very, very small town and occasionally leave even the 6 year old home alone briefly, like while we walk around the block, and the 12 year old frequently is home alone for long-ish stretches.**

Here's what I did:

 Bought a new phone on swappa because my iPhone 5 (I know) no longer plays well with anything. $200, but I could have gotten one for about $60 that would have done it. Or if you can borrow a phone for a week, that works.

Bought 2 new SIM cards from my carrier (Ting). $2.10

Bought a, basically, VOIP box. $49. Very easy to set up. (Obi.hai 200, if you're interested.)

Transferred my landline number to my mobile carrier. Free, but you have to check if it's possible first.

Transferred the same number to Google Voice. $20. (Check a current number from your carrier to see if this is possible.)If you don't care, you can just use a random Google Voice number for free.

Bought an add on mobile 911 service. $12/year. 

Also set up a Smart911 account to link the number and ages of my household to our address and feed it to the 911 database. Free.

So you could do this whole thing for the cost of a SIM card plus $49, plus whatever you want to pay for 911 costs. The new phone was a splurge because my old phone didn't do anything, but still. Way cheaper than a year of land line!

* Literally. Including two backhoes in separate months, three ditch witches, two duelling sets of plastic flags, a new utility pole, and a lot of orange tubing.

 ** "If you need us call our phones. If it's an emergency call 911, unless there's a fire; then leave the house immediately and go find a neighbor. Don't let anyone else in the house for any reason unless it's your grandma."


  1. Is it hard to get just internet service in your area? We'd probably be happier without our landline, but if we want to go on having internet, we'd spend just as much without it as with it. Boo!

    1. It's very rural. This is the third provider in the area; one advantage is that their internet only is actually cheaper! Like $25/mo less but still.


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