Landlines Are Obsolete in Less Than a Generation

jackYesterday, when we moved my toddler to a “big-girl bed” — essentially a twin mattress on the floor of her room — I noted that I need to buy a faceplate to cover up the telephone jack, which is now at her eye level. And then I realized that the faceplate may never need to be removed because we, and likely the people who buy our house after we move, will have no need for a landline.

I still recall finally convincing my parents, less than two decades ago, that I needed my own phone line in my bedroom — an envy-inducing accessory for any teenage girl at the time. Now we debate at what age to give our children cell phones, and instead of all-night calls on three-way, teens use texting and Facebook.

I recall installing that very telephone jack I’m plating over; it was about five years ago, for my then-office as I prepared to work from home. Using my mobile phone as my sole office line would have been prohibitively expensive, since unlimited plans weren’t on offer, and my former employer didn’t reimburse reporters for their cell phones. Now my mobile phone is my only phone.

So the act of covering up the phone jack hit me much the same way it might hit a parent when their kid walks off to school without a look back. The telephone industry is growing up and moving on. Wireless isn’t just a balm for the bottom line, but an integral component to the future when tied to a fiber network.

One day I’ll have to tell my daughter about my phone that lit up when it rang, and that had a cord (!) which would get so snarled that I would have to sit with my head five inches from the phone’s base in order to take a call. And she’ll look at me the same way I look at my mom when she talks about her slide rule.