You need to have a way for people to contact you. It’s as simple as that. Family, friends, work, your favourite shops, your bank and many other individuals and organisations will need to give you a buzz at one time or another, and living in a communications Dark Age is impossible now. Sure, you may be able to go without the Internet, or a mobile phone or a computer, but totally closing yourself off from the world is not a good idea. To make things more urgent, government agencies such as Centrelink and the tax department will have great trouble processing any of your forms or paperwork without a contact number, which will make life harder for you.
Australia’s two largest landline providers, Optus and Telstra, both claim that the landline isn’t dead yet, and still serves an essential purpose for all of their customers. Then again, this is the phone company saying you need a phone, so there may be a little bit of bias, but they do make some good points, such as:
1. Emergency services can pinpoint the location of your landline in the event of a triple-zero call, while mobile phones will only reveal your general vicinity. Without being hyperbolic, this is a life or death issue.
2. Local calls you make on landlines are untimed, and it is impossible to match this value if you make local calls on a mobile.
3. A broadband internet connection that you get physically installed through your landline can handle “bandwidth hungry” computer applications, downloads and streaming very effectively. Wireless broadband access is very slow in comparison, and isn’t all that good at handling large amounts of information, either.
4. Landlines are a communication option that parents and grandparents are comfortable with due to their familiarity.
5. You can capitalise on the heavily discounted STD and international call rates most carriers now offer as an incentive to keep the landline. There is a lot of competition, so deals start from less than $10 a month with no line rental.
But do you need a mobile phone?
Despite how common mobile phones have become, we still know people that lead full lives without some chirping hunk of plastic in their pocket bugging them all the time. To be honest, some people need a mobile more than others, and what was once a luxury or an oddity is now among the most common items you’d find in somebody’s jeans.
The usefulness of a mobile phone outweighs the cost, especially if you get a basic one. Prepaid phones can set you back as little as $20 a month.
Remember that phones aren’t just phones anymore: anything above the most basic of handsets will have a built-in camera, a detailed address book, games, an organiser, an alarm clock, a calculator, and will be capable of downloading any one of thousands of apps (small files that do specific things on your phone). As long as you have some way to be contacted, you’ll avoid many dramas.