Similarly, in an emergency, when you call 911 from a landline phone, the operator can get a location without you having to tell them where you are. That's not always the case with a cell phone. However, the FCC is trying to implement new rules so that 911 dispatchers can more readily locate cell phone callers.
It's often easier to locate a landline phone in your house than a cell phone. Although with the proliferation of wireless landline phones, those can be misplaced as well. Another problem is that you don't have one central shared phone for everyone in the household.
Reliance on cell phones leads to more asynchronous communication. As Dana Blankenhorn wrote recently on SmartPlanet:
When you give up on calling and just send send a text, you become part of what I call the Asynchronous Nation. There is nothing inherently wrong with asynchronicity. It's just very different. It's the biggest change in human, electronic communication since the phone replaced the telegram, since synchronicity began in other words, over a century ago.
Personally I don't mind. I'm more productive when communication occurs on my schedule. And I find I can do more of it ... What I have learned since cutting the phone cord is that the Asynchronous Nation is a different place from the one I lived in last century. How different we don't yet know.
One of the biggest issues with going cell-only at home is a weak signal from your mobile provider. The providers have a solution for that: The femtocell or microcell tower, which give you a mini-cell tower in your living room.
Well, not really. Femtocells plug into your home high-speed Internet service and route your cell calls through them, offering perfect coverage and no dropped calls. Jim Rossman of the Dallas Morning News raved about his AT&T 3G MicroCell in a review, saying "it's one of the best products I've ever reviewed" in part because it brought the solid landline feeling to his cell phone.
But others find the idea of consumers paying to offload network traffic from cell carriers abhorrent. Nick Mokey at Digital Trends compares AT&T's tactics to Tom Sawyer tricking people into doing his whitewashing work for him. AT&T in this case is getting the benefit of less network traffic, and also making you pay for it.
"In exchange for taking your weight off its creaking, overburdened network, AT&T will happily charge you $150 for the 3G MicroCell, and continue to deduct minutes from your plan when you use it, even though you're paying another company to handle your traffic, and paid out of pocket for the device to do it," Mokey wrote.
If that doesn't bother you, and you'd like to try out a femtocell to turbo-charge your home cell coverage, here are the main options:
Description: "Connects to AT&T's network via your existing broadband Internet service (such as DSL or cable) and is designed to support up to four simultaneous users in a home or small business setting."
Price: $150, but you can get a $100 rebate if you sign up for the $20/month unlimited calling plan. Otherwise it uses your cell plan's minutes. If you have AT&T DSL or U-verse, you can get an additional $50 rebate.
Learn more here.
Verizon Network Extender
Description: "Network Extender is easy to set up and ready to use right out of the box and can provide coverage in an area of up to 5,000 square feet."
Price: $250. No monthly usage fees.