Landline users are proudly ‘old school’

When cellphone service briefly went out for millions of AT&T customers across the country last month, Francella Jackson, 61, of Fairview Heights, Illinois, said she picked up her old Southwestern Bell landline and called her friends. So we can laugh at people who can’t use their phones.”

“Isn’t it great that we can talk and have good conversations?” He remembered saying. “we laughed a lot”.

Derek Shaw, 68, of York, Pennsylvania, said he has an Android cell phone but prefers to talk on his home’s black cordless landline. The sound quality is better and the phone is easier to hold during long conversations, he said. Shaw said he prefers talking to people face-to-face rather than Zoom and never got rid of his vinyl record collection when CDs became fashionable in the 1990s.

“I never thought about giving up my landline,” he said. “I’ll kick and scream when I need to.”

For many people, landlines have come to seem as essential as steamboats and telegrams in the smartphone age. But for those who still use them, they offer clear benefits. Prompted by the February 22 shutdown of AT&T’s service and pressure from AT&T to phase out traditional landlines in California, those who have them are speaking out in defense of their old phones.

For them, landlines are a lifesaver during power cuts; A welcome return to the era before doomscrolling and push alerts; And a more comfortable, better-sounding alternative to smaller, thinner smartphones.

“I love my landline,” said Jackson, who has had a landline since the 1980s. People call me old-fashioned, but I’ll always be old-fashioned.

He has a cell phone but no internet at home, he said. She likes to remember her friends’ phone numbers and never miss a call. “I’m a little nostalgic,” Jackson said. “With technology, even though I accept it, there are some things I prefer to hold on to.”

Some young people also see the benefits of a landline. Corey Seacrest, 32, of Chicago said he and his girlfriend got a pink landline phone to use in case the power goes out. He said he doesn’t know anyone his age who has it.

When friends come over, “they stop, look at it and say, ‘What’s that?'” he said. “It brings some laughs.”

Landlines may seem like a portal to the pre-Internet era. Many Americans grew up with the classic rotary telephone mounted on the kitchen wall, which the entire family had to share and which provided reliability but not privacy. Some people got a hamburger phone in their teen’s room after begging their parents for weeks. Some were fans of the football phone that came free with a Sports Illustrated subscription.

Author Charlie Penn writes in Apartment Therapy that, as a millennial, she got a landline because it gives her a break from her cell phone, is easier for her dad to access, and takes her back in time. .

“If plaid miniskirts, ivy garlands and thick-soled combat boots can make a welcome return, why can’t I engage in hours-long conversations on my home cordless phone, as I did in my teenage years and when I was 20 years old?” Penn said.

Others rely on landlines in rural areas with little mobile phone coverage. Nevertheless, landline users are a clear minority in the United States.

According to the latest data collected by the federal government, about 73% of American adults lived in a household without a landline in 2022, but had at least one cell phone. As expected, age was a significant factor in phone use. Nearly 90% of Americans ages 25 to 29 report only using a cell phone, compared to less than half of Americans ages 65 and older.

Citing the declining popularity of landlines, AT&T last year asked California regulators to be relieved of the obligation to maintain its traditional copper-wire telephone network, which served American homes for much of the last century. Was connected to.

AT&T said the number of copper landlines in California, known as over the counter telephone service, or POTS, has declined 89% between 2000 and 2021. According to the Bureau of California Public Defenders, customers typically pay about $34.50 per month for that service. , But according to AT&T, most landline users also rely primarily on their cell phones.

“Like blockbuster rentals and Kodak movies, POTS has fallen from technological primacy to effective obsolescence in the course of a generation,” AT&T wrote in its application to the California Public Utilities Commission.

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