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Omit Telephone Jacks from reno/new homes?

8 years ago

Like ever growing numbers of North Americans, we've cut ourself loose from our landlines. And, like the song goes, "Not missing you at all". No pollsters. No bill collectors for the last people who had our phone number. No solicitors. No wrong numbers. No fax machine.

The question is do we even include those jacks in a build anymore. Or maybe just a couple of strategically located ones for people who cling to their landlines (increasingly actually fibreoptic) but use wireless in the home?

Comments (44)

  • debrak2008
    8 years ago

    I will not be without a home phone due to 911. We have had issues in our area where people use their cell phone to call 911 and the call roams to Canada or Ohio (we are in NY). The house is on fire and the dispatcher has no clue where you are. Until they solve that issue I will have a home phone, so yes, I would put in at least 1 phone jack.

  • funkycamper
    8 years ago

    Interesting question. We still have a landline but rarely use it. It's good for people to be able to contact us via the almost obsolete phone book. Not everybody has our cellphone numbers.

    But the most important reason is that our area has an excellent enhanced 911 system. With a landline, if all you can do is dial 911 but can't speak, they automatically send all services (police, ambulance, fire). The first responder will alert the call center if to let them no that, for example, no fire trucks are needed or for the fire trucks to get there ASAP. We live in a small town of about 8k people and all services are only about one mile from us. They respond quickly. I like the security of knowing if I'm choking, had a stroke, or if an intruder is in the house but I'm afraid to speak while hiding in the closet, that help is on the way.

    Cellphones don't alert those services to your exact address so help would be much slower in arriving due to needing to triangulate the signal.

    Also, since we plan to age in place here, we may reach a stage where we should be wearing one of those "life alert" style buttons on our persons. Currently, those work through landlines. I don't believe they work through cellphone although that could certainly change.

    So, for me, a landline makes sense and is a worthy expense.

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  • Lars
    8 years ago

    If you want to eliminate a certain percentage of buyers, then you can eliminate the phone jack. If you want to appear accommodating rather than chintzy, then you should include the jacks. Not having the jacks shows that you cut every possible corner and makes you look cheap, which may not may not be your intention.

  • western_pa_luann
    8 years ago

    "So, for me, a landline makes sense and is a worthy expense."
    For us also!

  • arkansas girl
    8 years ago

    What about PC users needing lines for internet connections? We use A T and T for our internet which requires phone lines into the house.

  • zone4newby
    8 years ago

    We have a phone jack in the closet where we keep our router. At the moment it is not connected to the outside world, but it's an option if we decide to abandon cable internet.

    We didn't put any others in our house-- I think they're ugly, so I prefer not having them. At this point in my life, I don't see the slight difference in 911 service to be worth the expense and hassle of keeping a landline phone in my house. If that changes, we can add more jacks and get hooked up.

    If it is an issue when we sell, we will install a couple more jacks and get the house hooked up.

  • ILoveRed
    8 years ago

    We have a land line that we rarely use.

    If I'm not mistaken you have to have a landline to use a device such as Life Line. You know "I've fallen and I can't get up". My mother has one.

  • ILoveRed
    8 years ago

    Quarterly pacemaker checks for someone with a pacemaker.

  • PRO
    George Three LLC
    8 years ago

    depends on your buyers/owners. i am taking out all the phone jacks in an investment reno right now. current phone wiring is a clusterF*, not worth time to fix.

    99% chance buyers will not have a landline (down/mid first time house target demo). if they do, they can put it in. cleans up the walls, looks nicer.

  • funkycamper
    8 years ago

    Our service provider hooks up the lines so not sure why anybody needs to do the work themselves to fix a clusterf*.

    And the lines are no uglier than power lines outside the house (and usually routed the same way to keep lines to the home to a minimum). And the interior line looks like any line, not really different than for a lamp. One line to one phone, the rest are connected wirelessly.

    In my area, emergency services usually arrive within 8 minutes per statistics maintained if people call with a landline on enhanced system. Cellphone responses can be 30+ minutes. This can make a huge life-or-death difference or be the time a small fire rages into one that burns down the whole place.

    And emergencies can happen to any age group.

    I just think it's odd that people are so cavalier about such an important safety issue. However, I realize that responses may not be so swift in other areas. One of the advantages of small town living.

  • cefoster
    8 years ago

    I had an emergency and my cell phone did not work. Having a landline is being proactive for safety if nothing else. And about the jacks being ugly - really?

  • lazy_gardens
    8 years ago

    landline = DSL internet connection :) That an a wireless modem is all I need.

    We're cleaning up a century of jacks, lines, connections and stuff ... it will end up as two jacks for DSL (one in offece, the other in rear of the house).

    We had so many dead loops that the signal from the DSL was CRAP. Disconnected all but a couple of them ant it wonderfully got better.

  • galore2112
    8 years ago

    I haven't had a landline since 1998 and did not put outlets in my new home. If someone needs one in the future, they can put a base station in the basement and use wireless handsets.

    To me this is like putting cassette tape players or CD players in a car. 911 is advanced enough in my area to work with cell phones.

  • dekeoboe
    8 years ago

    We need them here too. The other thing I like about them is I find using a "normal" handset more comfortable than using a cell phone. We have a number of handsets and the system we have allows us to use bluetooth to tie into our cell phones too. So, you do not need to be near the cell phone in order to answer it - you can be in the garage, in the basement, etc., and just pick up one of the handsets.

    I also think the hard of hearing can used adapted landline phones easier than cell phones. I know my dad has a really hard time with a cell phone and a much easier time with the landline phone he has from the VA. (I think it is the VA.)

  • lookintomyeyes83
    8 years ago

    I wouldn't buy a house without a landline. It's essential for contacting people in an emergency, esp as handheld batteries will die within a few days, and in a dire situation you can actually get small bits of power from it.

    In Canada we have a federal do-not-call list that lasts 3 years, so crank calls are quiet minimal.

    We currently only have DSL internet in our area, so a phone jack is also required. Of course DSL should always use filters to ensure you have the best signal.

    As we're planning on ICF, I'm wiring in communications, as I suspect 13" of concrete is gonna lose a signal...

    For the poster who said phone outlets are ugly - I'm curious if you have usb ports in your outlets? Cause I find outlets and other 'wall warts' all equally ugly.

  • zone4newby
    8 years ago

    "In my area, emergency services usually arrive within 8 minutes per statistics maintained if people call with a landline on enhanced system. Cellphone responses can be 30+ minutes."

    Where do you get this data? Also it appears that you're comparing the average landline response time with the maximum cellphone response time, and that makes me a little suspicious about the source.

    FWIW, if I knew my local 911 service was so unresponsive to cellphone calls, that would be a problem for me beyond putting a landline in my home. The vast majority of 911 calls come from cell phones now-- if they can't deal with those calls appropriately, they need to fix that.

  • funkycamper
    8 years ago

    Those response times were from a talk given by our county disaster services coordinator. Maybe heard it back in 2010-2011. So it's likely response times for cell calls has improved since then.

    I figure even if the time has been cut in half to 15 minutes, it would still be double the 8 minute typical response time for land lines and, since seconds can make a big difference, I'm still keeping a land line.

    Where I live, the only higher-speed internet provider is cheaper with a phone than without anyway. I know, odd pricing structure. But it would cost me $20 more/month if I dropped the land line.

  • Awnmyown
    8 years ago

    We put in one phone jack...intended on putting in more, but just didn't seem worth the effort. We're fairly remote, so the cellular service is sketchy at best, which has made the DH (newly weds) a little nervous, especially once we have a family. He wants to get home phone now, but our telephone company wants $750 to install because we have a lot of cable to run from the road.

    That said, with a single jack, we can do multiple cordless handsets around the house just fine. So I would suggest if nothing else, put a single jack in a convenient place, and that should suffice.

  • jimandanne_mi
    8 years ago

    Naween, be sure you have them wire for the doorbell. We have an ICF house with an unwired doorbell, and placing the box (whatever it's called) inside was limited to where the 2 parts could communicate through the window glass.


  • bob_cville
    8 years ago

    While doing a massive remodel of an apartment that we rent out about a year ago, I needed to remove or disconnect the phone lines running through the crawlspace. Re-installing them and putting in a phone jack was one of the last outstanding tasks needing to be done at the point we started showing it to potential tenants.

    The one who decided to rent it said he had no interest in a landline, and since he was planning to sign up for cable, he would use them for internet service. When the tenant moves out I may need to install phone lines and phone jacks, but luckily he decided to renew the lease for another year.

  • galore2112
    8 years ago

    I have saved almost $5000 not having a land-line (based on the cheapest rate of $25/month) since 1998.

    The only fairly strong argument for a land-line, better availability during catastrophes, is a bit sketchy.

    If we lose power, it's typically because a tree fell on the overhead utility lines. This will also damage the phone lines. In this case, it's actually more likely to reach emergency services from your battery powered cell phone because the cell towers have backup power.

    If there is the zombiecalypse or similar, good luck getting emergency services to you instead of the 10000s of other people calling in for help. Regardless of cell phone service or land-line.

  • weedyacres
    8 years ago

    Big reno here. When we moved in we never activated the landline, just use our cells. We removed the jacks in several rooms while refinishing baseboards and demoing walls. Never put them back, just ripped out the wire.

    There's still a phone line running into the house. If a future owner wants phone service, they can have it hooked up again. I'm not too worried. I can't say I've ever paid attention when viewing a house to whether there's a land line or not, so I doubt a buyer would notice either.

  • reinitodepiedra
    8 years ago

    $30 a month for a walmart straight talk flip phone and $30 a year for magicjack at the house. I have not had a land line since 2003. I didn't even think they still put land lines in homes until I read this. We do have cable lines for internet. It is just my wife and I and we are in our mid 30s. Maybe if we had kids or were older it would be different.

  • grubby_AZ Tucson Z9
    8 years ago

    I didn't read all the above so this might be a repeat. You might run blind wiring from a central closet or smart panel box. My whole house has "sound" wiring in every non-bath room ceiling, 32 inches from each wall surface in each corner, and it all runs to a closet box that I haven't opened since I put it in. It's there, it's easily findable, and it's totally hidden.

    That's not quite the suggestion, but it's close.

    If people use wireless in their home, they have to feed the wireless device from some sort of cable, no? Plan now to locate it (and it's wires) in a very central spot in the house for wi-fi reliability and strength.

    So you could, with 2000 or so (wild guess) feet of cat 6 wire, install wiring to predictably mapped places everywhere IN the walls. Also run a line and a spare to a spot in the eaves where telco service would be likely to come into your house. Also run a pair of RG-6 cables to a similar spot if you might possibly have a cable feed some day. Everything buried, text or graphic map taped on to the inside cover of the smart panel box. These wires can be used for both data and for phone, and they'd be there for future buyers to have fully hidden and to uncover as needed. You (or the future buyer) would be set for three line phone service if your requirements change.

  • chicagoans
    8 years ago

    I still have a land line but it doesn't get much use. I can see the benefit of disconnecting it -- no more telemarketers, less cost -- but I don't necessarily want everyone to have my cell phone number.

    As time goes by, more and more people call my cell number rather than my home line. My parents and in-laws are the main exceptions. But the 911 access might have me hanging on to it for awhile. I'll ask a local EMT for his opinion on response times.

  • Fori
    8 years ago

    Once my town (along with most of the northeast) had a power outage for several days and it was nice to have a landline as the cell towers were all out. Not that I had much to say, but if I did I could have.

  • worthy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Interesting responses that show how much location has to do with the choice.

    Just to comment on one:

    Cellphones don't alert those services to your exact address so help would be much slower in arriving

    In our area, authorities can and do track cellphones down to the exact location in cases of emergency or suspected criminal behaviour.

    This post was edited by worthy on Thu, Jan 8, 15 at 22:11

  • RobGT90
    8 years ago

    It costs little to add when you build. Even if you never hook it up, having it in the house would be good. Also, I like the idea of an internal non-wireless network that cannot be accessed or hacked wirelessly.

  • HerrDoktorProfessor
    8 years ago

    Have not had a landline in 15 years and did not include a phone jack in our build.

    Technically our cable package includes a telephone number but we've never actually hooked up a phone to it.

  • cearbhaill (zone 6b Eastern Kentucky)
    8 years ago

    "At this point in my life, I don't see the slight difference in 911 service to be worth the expense and hassle of keeping a landline phone in my house. If that changes, we can add more jacks and get hooked up."

    Because young people never have emergencies, right?

  • Perseco2012
    8 years ago

    I am laws are not. My father in law has to plug in every night to a phone jack to record his weight. He has health problems. So I must have a landline. He doesn't live with us. This is for their visits. So, only place I am putting a phone Jack is in the guest room

  • lolauren
    8 years ago

    I have never had a landline as an adult. The only reason I would have one in my home is if there wasn't cell phone service here. (In that case, I probably wouldn't consider the house, anyway.)

    There are cell phone-based Medic Alert-type products. Technology will continue to move to shift away from landline-dependence.

    Also, I live with a first responder. Even in our rural area, they said dispatch/911 has improved technology that makes it easy to find people's locations. So, I am comfortable taking the risk of not having a landline, as I know dispatch can quickly ascertain my location in the rare circumstance that I could dial the phone, am alone and can't speak.

    Disclaimer: clearly, every person's circumstance is different and there are obvious regional differences. So, I am only speaking for myself and my local area. :)

  • nightowlrn
    8 years ago

    Interesting subject. We lived in a house built in 1986 and redid a lot of it in 2009 - Although we dropped our land line service in 2005, we didn't cover up the jacks during the reno. Our next house was built in 2006 and we bought it in 2010. It had one phone jack in the study and one to an alarm system we didn't use. Our next and current house was built in 2009. We bought it a few months ago. I didn't even think about it until now - so I started looking and see there is one phone jack in the study and also a DSL line. There is also a phone line to an alarm system that we don't use.

    So - If I were building and it wasn't a big deal to do, I would put at least wiring for one phone jack and probably DSL as it seems like that would be a pain to later. I would think wireless alarm systems are the way to go now so I don't think I would wire for that.

  • zone4newby
    8 years ago

    ""At this point in my life, I don't see the slight difference in 911 service to be worth the expense and hassle of keeping a landline phone in my house. If that changes, we can add more jacks and get hooked up."
    Because young people never have emergencies, right?"

    Some people are at higher risk than others. I think most people agree that it would be absurd for me to force my healthy 8 year old to wear one of those alert necklaces they show in the "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials, even though it is within the realm of possibility that he could need it. In the same way, older adults with known health problems are a lot more likely to have emergencies where seconds count than younger, healthy active people, and so it makes sense to make different decisions about things like whether or not you pay hundreds of dollars a year to maintain a landline depending on your health status.

    Also, I live in an area with no crime to speak of, around the corner from the police station and about 5 minutes from the nearest hospital.

    I am sure there are situations where having a landline is solid, sensible decision, but I think there are at least as many situations where it makes as much sense to skip it.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    8 years ago

    We put phone jacks in at strategic locations and we use landlines for most of our calls...though most of our phones don't need the land line...they are satellites off the main phone.

    We had a week-long power outage that affected the power at the cell towers too...but our landlines kept working. And of course, with cells, if you have no power, you have to find your way to a charging station to keep them going.

    And I like that we can see our landline calls on the tv before we answer them...our cells don't do that.

  • lyfia
    8 years ago

    We have DSL and satellite TV so need a land line. There is also crappy reception for cell phone signals where we live. Although emergency response can find the location of a cell phone it is a process that takes longer than with a landline and has more errors although technology is getting better.

    I really don't use our land line for calling, except for international due to cost, since I use my wireless router to use my cell phone to make calls since I don't have signal at my house.

    Now in our previous house I had cable and nothing but trouble with it especially during bad weather. I used to call bi-weekly with an issue (either TV or Internet) and then they'd try to sell me on their phone service and my response was always "so I won't be able to call you when I have issues". That house was also in a hole as far as cell coverage went.

    As others mentioned medical devices also require landlines.

    Now I don't need one in every room. But I'd want one where the TV goes and in an office or wherever you'd put your router. I'd never go back to cable again even if it was available. Have only had 2 issues since having DSL and satellite. One the box died after 5 years. The other a cable was cut. Nothing like what cable was like and I don't think I was an anomaly after hearing my co workers who have cable.

  • energy_rater_la
    8 years ago

    I'm in a rural area (think bugtussle...)
    and in a hurricane zone. the last round of
    hurricanes shifted the cell towers so that
    the previously excellent cell reception went
    to having to leave the property to get reception.
    stayed that way for 3 years.
    my sister who lives in the front of the property
    and gets the phone service through internet
    had to come to my house to use the land line.
    and to cook & bathe as I have propane for both
    stove & water heater.

    while I have phones that are not corded
    I keep an old style phone, base with
    receiver attached with cord, for the times
    that the electricity is out.
    somehow the phone works even if
    electricity is out...
    this is my 'go to' phone for those times.

    also I have dsl, so I need the phone

    in this very rural area, 911 tracing calls from
    cell phones just doesn't work, unless you
    can give them the address.

    for those reasons, I'll keep the land line.
    even if internet connection changed in my
    life time...the land line stays.

    I have a friend nearby that had an aneurism.
    her husband called from the cell phone &
    was told to call back from the land line & leave
    phone off the hook.
    dunno why...but time was of the essence for
    his wife.

    for the nominal cost of a landline plus
    unlimited long is worth it
    to me. for peace of mind & internet.
    my old old friend who now lives in Miami
    called me last night. we talked for 5+ hours.
    on my landline, his cell battery gave out on
    one cell & we continued the marathon
    on his second cell phone.

    old school..yeah guess so.
    I'll keep the landline, but then I'm don't feel
    that I need a smart phone either. I'm
    perfectly capable of setting my tstat
    while in house. I'm a huge fan of keeping
    it simple in my own life/home.

    interesting thread.

  • funkycamper
    8 years ago

    @energy_rater_la: While I totally agree with your reasons for keeping a landline...and I wish I still had a wired-in one like you do...I disagree that a smartphone makes your life more complicated. I'd give up my computer before I'd give up my smartphone. It has made my life so much easier in so many ways I'd be writing a novel-length reply if I tried to list them. I'd estimate it saves me at least 2 hours a week.

  • houses14
    8 years ago

    I am in process of building custom home now, and have telephone jacks for all bedrooms.

  • amberm145_gw
    8 years ago

    We haven't had a landline for over 15 years. We're not wiring the new house with jacks. If we wanted a back-up system, we'd use cable phones. It's not VOIP, it's a phone system that uses the cable wire.

    And although we use wireless for most of our computer devices, we've wired the house with cat 6 to every room. If we decide in the future that we want a landline again, that wire can be used.

    In my current house, I've taken the jacks out in a couple of places and covered the hole with a plate. (I was replacing the beige/yellowed outlets with white ones, I didn't feel like buying and wiring new phone jacks, so I bought white plates and cut the wires.) I don't think a buyer would even notice, let alone decide not to buy the house over it. Heck, I don't know if any or all of them even worked, since we've never had a phone here.

  • CCB3
    8 years ago

    We have our internet and TV through our landline. We put all of our routers and a jack in a storage alcove on top of our master closet. We also have a jack in the kitchen, in case we ever need an actual phone. Cell service is a bit spotty at our location.

  • Lee Rutter
    6 years ago

    Interesting read and interesting perspectives. We are just now building our home and the telephone jack is... included. I really didn't want it. Some of the points were funny... such as in case of emergency or you never know when there are storms and electric is knocked out for a few days... well, the jack doesn't do any good unless you already have service from the telco!!!! However, the home builders are including one in the kitchen for free and I am going to ask them if they can put the jack in the home office OR in the IT closet. Thanks for helping with this subject!

  • handymac
    6 years ago

    VOIP is less expensive than a conventional land line. A friends conventional(AT&T) land line bill is $45 a month---no long distance. My VOIP is $4.38 a month(those pesky taxes and fees) with Ooma.

    That means I have internet. Which makes my bill higher than the friends(no internet).

    The glitch in calling 911 on a cell phone is the signal does not necessarily show your location, many 911 systems will also not record a caller ID, and the call taker has to determine where you are physically to connect you with the appropriate emergency department. If you do not know where you are, the call is generally only able to triangulate your location to a square mile---a large area for emergency personnel to search. Better than nothing on the road, not good when at home.