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Lament of the Landline

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I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but a while back mobile phone tariffs changed dramatically. No longer was calling someone from your mobile just for a chat the pastime of the rich and famous, no longer did you have to keep a stopwatch running while talking, just to ensure that you would have enough money to pay the bill when it came. These days your average mobile phone tariff comes with more free minutes than most average customers can use in a month, especially considering that what you don’t use will get rolled over to the next month too.

Honestly, when’s the last time you sat there fishing out a phone number from your mobile so that you could call it from a landline? This is a ritual that I vividly remember performing all the time when the cost differential between mobile calls and landline calls was huge. These days though, even if my home phone is sitting next to me I’ll just take out my mobile and call someone directly from that.

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The evolution of the mobile phone tariff has made it possible, in theory at least, to do away with a landline at home altogether. In fact for a great many students in rented accommodation there is no need for a landline, since everyone in the house will have their own mobile phone. But it’s not just students who think that the need for a landline has diminished, even I am starting to struggle to see the reasoning behind having a copper wire piped into my home. Pretty much no one I know has the faintest idea what my home phone number is – not because I don’t want them to have it, but because there is no reason for them to have it. Call me on my mobile and I’ll probably answer, call me on my landline and I’ll probably ignore it, assuming it’s an unsolicited sales call from India.

So why do I even have a landline? I hear you ask. The answer to that question is pretty simple and quite obvious – broadband. Yes, the only tangible reason for me having a landline is that I absolutely can’t survive without broadband at home and the vast majority of the population are in the same boat. So, every quarter when I receive my bill from BT I’m left with a kind of sick feeling – my call charges are almost nil, with line rental making up the vast majority of the bill. All that money paid to BT every year, just to give me a conduit for my broadband, but what choice do I have?

Last month I reviewed T-Mobile’s HSDPA data card and with 1.8Mbit/sec download speed it’s a superb bit of kit for mobile Internet access. I’m also in the middle of testing Vodafone’s HSDPA card and to be fair, it’s just as great to use as T-Mobile’s unit. Since reviewing the T-Mobile card I have received a significant amount of emails from readers asking the exact same question – could I use an HSDPA data card instead of my home broadband? You see I’m not alone, there’s a whole host of tech savvy consumers out there who are also tired of paying line rental on a copper wire, just to ensure high-speed Internet access.

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