For the ABC TV series, see Landline (TV series). For the superseded Ordnance Survey data product, see Land-Line.

A landline telephone (also known as land line, land-line, main line, homephone, landline, fixed-line, and wireline) refers to a phone which uses a solid medium telephone line such as a metal wire or fiber optic cable for transmission as distinguished from a mobile cellular line which uses radio waves for transmission.

In 2003, the CIA reported approximately 1.263 billion main telephone lines worldwide. China had more than any other country at 350 million and the United States was second with 268 million. The United Kingdom has 23.7 million residential fixed landlines.[1] In 2008, the world had 1.27 billion fixed line subscribers.[2]

Fixed phone

A fixed phone line (a line that is not a mobile phone line) can be hard-wired or cordless.

Fixed wireless refers to the operation of wireless devices or systems in fixed locations such as homes. Fixed wireless devices usually derive their electrical power from the utility mains electricity, unlike mobile wireless or portable wireless which tend to be battery-powered. Although mobile and portable systems can be used in fixed locations, efficiency and bandwidth are compromised compared with fixed systems. Mobile or portable, battery-powered wireless systems can be used as emergency backups for fixed systems in case of a power blackout or natural disaster.

Dedicated lines

The term landline is also used to describe a connection between two or more points that consists of a dedicated physical cable, as opposed to an always-available private link that is actually implemented as a circuit in a wired switched system (usually the public switched telephone network). So-called leased lines are invariably of the latter type; the implications of a land line in this context are security and survivability. For example, a military headquarters might be linked to front-line units "by landline" to ensure that communication remains possible even if the conventional telephone network is damaged or destroyed. Another example of this is in airports. All air traffic control towers have dedicated lines connected to the police, fire department, hospitals, army, etc. Deployed as a precaution in case of emergency, these can be used at any time.

Decline of the landline phone

In recent years, the landline telephone has seen major decline due to the advancement of mobile network technology and the obsolescence of the old copper wire networking. In the coming years, the use of these networks will be deemed completely out of date and replaced with the use of more efficient broadband and fiber optic connection extending to rural areas and places where telecommunication was much more sparse. Some see this happening as soon as the year 2025.[3]

In 2004, only about 45% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 owned cell phones. As a means of communication in that time, they had to rely on the use of landline telephones. in just 4 years time, that percentage reached a total of about 71%. That same year, 2008, about 77% of adults owned a mobile phone.[4] In the year 2013, 91% of adults own a mobile phone. Of that 91%, almost 60% have a smart phone.[5] Because of these demographics, over the course of 9 years, the likelihood of not only a teenager, but an adult using a landline phone have decreased greatly. Some households may not even have a landline phone at all, while others have one as a fail-safe line in case of emergencies or as a receiver for otherwise unwanted calls.

The landline may not be extinct as a form of technology, but its heyday has passed as a primary source of telecommunication.

Landline obsolete in baseball

The landline phone will soon become a thing of the past in baseball. The use of wireless technology has overtaken the landline phone in sports just as it is overtaking the landline throughout the world. T-mobile will become the provider of the new wireless technology at MLB stadiums after signing a multi million dollar deal with the league. Major League Baseball said T-Mobile will create an on-field communication system.[6] This will take away the phone call through the landline phone from the manager to the bullpen. When the manager makes a pitching change, he will no longer do it through old technology, he will now do it wirelessly. The landline call in baseball will be extinct by the time the 2014 season comes around.[6]

Landlines in developing countries

In most countries the landline was something that was not readily available to most of the people who lived in these countries. In some countries in Africa the landline is something is being outpaced by the rise in cell phone populations.Between 1998 and 2008, Africa added only 2.4 million landlines.[7]However, during this same time the number of mobile phone lines that have been subscribed to has sky rocketed.Between 2000 and 2008, cell phone population has risen from less than two in 100 people to 33 out of 100.[7] This goes to show that wireless technology is more abundant in developing countries for its accessibility. It is harder to put up landline copper that is accessible to everyone, than it is to install mobile wireless towers that people can all connect to from anywhere. Landlines are being surpassed all throughout the world by wireless technology, whether it is in underdeveloped regions of the world or economically thriving parts.

The downside

After Hurricane Sandy, Verizon refused to install landline copper wire in Mantoloking, NJ because of its high cost. Instead, Verizon proposed to local customers to install Verizon Link, which is a wireless home phone system that does not require the phone to be connected to landline copper wire, but instead, receives its signal from the towers. Landlines work by transmitting voice and data signals by copper wire through electric pulses. This means landline phones would still work even if there was a blackout or a satellite disturbance, causing interference with mobile phones. [8]

The effect decreasing landlines have had on contacting emergency services is also an big safety issue. On September 11th 2001, when disaster struck New York City, tens of thousands of people were calling 911 emergency and the volume of calls flooded mobile towers. The calls would not go through because of the lack of frequency, and so the network crashed. The overload of data signals not only delayed communications, but it also slowed down the response time of police and fire departments because they could not properly communicate. [9]

Another effect would be the lack of data and voice coverage in some parts of the world. For example, the majority of the United States has mobile coverage, but some places still do not. This is a concern because they are very isolated places, and if there was an emergency there would be no means of communication without landlines in place. [10] Also, the decrease in landlines has had an effect on the accuracy of locating someone who called 911. When a landline is used to call emergency services, a nearly exact location is found; however; when a mobile phone is used, the location differs and has a radius of 10 to 300 meters. [11]This variation in location could potentially be the difference between life and death for someone who called 911.

Impact of declining landline use

In the 21st century the landline will soon become very scarce. The landline becoming obsolete will have an impact on many things. One of the areas that this will have an effect on is the way national health surveys are conducted. For years, these surveys were conducted by running a probability based Random Digit Dial (RDD). [8]This method has been useful for scientists and others to collect the necessary data; however, with 1 in 4 adults without a landline, the way these surveys will be conducted has changed. [12] These health surveys are now being conducted through dual-frame designs, which include calling mobile phones as well as some remaining landlines. [8] This method allows the data collectors to obtain relevant data while adapting to the new changes in technology.

This shift from 'plugged-in' to wireless has also had an effect on the political process worldwide. Since the increase in mobile phones, many politicians have had to change the way they reach out to potential voters. With a mobile phone, the owner is the one who pays for the call whether it's an incoming or outgoing. This means this method of advertising is not allowed by politicians. In turn, pop-up ads, blogs, and commercials have been used in place of landlines, costing political teams more money, time, and resources than reaching out to a voter using a landline. [13]

See also

Telecommunications portal



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