The recent power outages in California confirmed an issue that I recently deduced:

  • “Landlines” have traditionally been understood to be copper wires connected to a telephone company’s central office that required no power to work. The chief selling point for a “landline” was that you’d have a way to communicate in an emergency if you lost power.
  • Many of today’s “landlines” aren’t landlines in the traditional sense in that they require power to work: for example, voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP). Some phone “landlines” even connect from your home to cell phone towers. No power; no service.

Bottomline: The measure of security in having a “landline” provides a false sense of security if you don’t have a traditional copper-wire landline.

What made me deduce this? It dawned on me our “landline” phone is connected via our Internet router. No power to the router means no phone service via our “landline.”

When we contacted AT&T about upgrading our wireless, they said they could do that. They didn’t tell us that the upgrade would require moving from a traditional copper landline to VoIP. We learned about that paradigm shift only after the AT&T installation was completed. It also rendered the dial-out capability of the home security system obsolete. We had to invest an additional $500 to upgrade the security system to work with VoIP.

The phone companies haven’t been forthcoming about this as a lot of people would likely opt out of having a “landline” if only they knew this salient fact.

How many people with “landlines” don’t understand that that line they want for emergencies may not be available when they need it?

By the way, a satellite phone is your only option if you have to have phone service in an emergency if you’ve lost power. Cell phones may only work for a short period of time.

Thought for the week:

“Until you wholeheartedly believe in your own value, worth, and worthiness, there will always be a void in your spirit.” – Iyanla Vanzant


Dave Gardner

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, author, and blogger based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner focuses on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. Dave is the author of Mass Customization: An Enterprise-Wide Business Strategy

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