Do I cut the landline cord and move my new home phone number into the cloud?
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Four reasons I am choosing NOT to cut the landline cord

Twelve days ago I asked the question, "Do I cut the landline cord and move my new home phone number into the cloud?", and the responses have been great to read. Today, I can write the answer...

No, I will NOT cut the cord.

Around noon today my landline in Keene should be installed by Fairpoint Communications (who recently bought all of Verizon's landline business in Maine, NH and Vermont).

Why did I finally give in and get a landline installed? Four reasons:

  1. FAX - Unbelievably to me, perhaps the primary reason for keeping a landline is an old archaic technology that I absolutely can't stand... fax. This was brought home to me during the process of closing on the purchase of our Keene home and the sale of our Burlington home. As much as we may hate it, there are still some transactions that require fax. There were documents that had to be faxed to the bank. Documents that had to be faxed to lawyers. Documents that had to be faxed to real estate agents. To contractors.

    To a techie like me, it was unbelievably annoying not to be able to simply use email. But in many cases, it came down to this:

    Documents required our signatures.

    Because we still haven't come up with an agreed upon "digital signature", we as a society rely on good old hand-written signatures.

    Now in some cases I was able to scan in those documents and email them off. But not everyone would accept those documents by email. Some of the folks I had to interact with needed them by fax. There were also times when fax was admittedly faster than scanning in the doc and attaching it to an email message (and perhaps I need a better scanning solution). Just put the pages in the document feeder, punch in the number and hit send.

    Now I know there are solutions like eFax (which I use for inbound faxes) but I haven't yet found one that works in the way I need it. I've also seen that fax over VoIP lines doesn't always work well. So for the few times a year when I need fax, I seem to need a landline. (And the problem is that typically when I need to fax something, I really need to fax it for some critical reason.)

  2. 911 - As was mentioned in the comments to my original post, "guaranteed" access to 911 is certainly a consideration. Not as much for my wife and I as for our daughter or visitors/guests. My wife and I can pick up our cell phones and dial 911. But if something were ever to happen to one of us, I want our daughter, or anyone else visiting us, to be able to simply pick up a phone and dial 911 and have the emergency services come.

  3. DSL - My choices for Internet access in Keene basically come down to Time Warner Cable or DSL. Since I've been using them since the early 1990's back in the dialup / uucp ages, I'm going to be going back to using local ISP MV Communications (who is even now still handling all my personal email) for DSL access. The thing is that getting DSL is easier with a landline. The MV folks said they can do a "standalone" install without an actual phone line that I'm paying for (as I understand it, they would basically have the link they need installed) and if the reasons above didn't enter the picture I'd probably pursue it.

  4. The Cloud isn't quite ready - After writing my last post, I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how I could get this to work. How could I build my "abstraction layer"? Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my last post, the only service I could find today that gets you most of the way there is GrandCentral, but it still has problems. For instance, I have this perhaps archaic desire to have an area code 603 phone number and GC doesn't have any. I also don't want to have to press "1" to accept a call on a given phone. I just want to answer.

    So it seems like I would have to build my own. Now the pieces are certainly there. I can get phone numbers from any number of SIP providers (although perhaps not my desired 603). I can get call-in numbers for services like Skype or Yahoo (or AIM or MSN or Gizmo). Heck, I can build much of the abstraction layer using Voxeo's app platform (and I probably will as an experiment). Write some CCXML scripts and away we go.

    But the question is - in the midst of everything else I am trying to do - do I really want to be building and *maintaining* a phone number abstraction layer for my home phone? (And the equally important corollary: do I really want to be responsible for it when it inevitably breaks when I'm off on a business trip and suddenly my wife can't get calls at home?)

    No, I don't.

    Now maybe there are other services out there that I don't know about (feel free to pitch me in the comments if you offer one), but for the moment I think I'll let the cloud evolve a bit more. We'll see... maybe in six months or a year there will be better options out there.

So that's the scoop. For the moment, I've got a landline. We're paying the extremely basic rate plan (where if I make any long distance calls on it they are at 12 cents a minute!) and we'll see how it goes.

Fun, fun, fun...

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