Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

Landlines cost too much; you should ditch yours. Here’s how to do that, save hundreds every year, and still get unlimited long distance calling from a familiar device: your current home phone.

Monthly costs can add up to a lot over time, which is why it’s always a smart idea to see if tech knowledge can save you money How A Little Tech Knowlege Can Save You Thousands Every Year How A Little Tech Knowlege Can Save You Thousands Every Year A good chunk of your income goes to scheduled monthly expenses – and you're just barely keeping up. With a little tech savvy, you can get those expenses down and save thousands every year. Read More . Landlines are a textbook case of this: they cost quite a bit on a regular basis, and are easily replaced with inexpensive or free VoIP alternatives.

Let’s first take a look at how much clinging to your landline is costing you, then at a couple of simple alternatives you won’t even notice after you set them up. The numbers, and the specific trick, are USA only, but we’ll talk about alternatives.

What Does a Landline Cost You?

In the USA it’s not unusual for an unlimited long distance phone plan to cost $40 a month, with local-only lines costing around $25 (plus whatever you end up paying for long distance calls). Some bundled packages (phone/cable/internet) make the exact price hard to nail down, but generally these numbers apply – and add up quickly when you think about them annually:

  • $40 a month is $480 per year.
  • $25 a month is $300 per year.

This might not sound like much, but what could you do with that money if you weren’t spending it? Invest it for 10 years, with a 7% interest rate, and it adds up quickly:

Ads by Google
  • Saving $40 a month can earn you $6,923.39.
  • Saving $25 a month can earn you $4,327.12

(The right financial tools You're Probably Richer Than You Know: These 5 Sites Show You How You're Probably Richer Than You Know: These 5 Sites Show You How Today Cool Websites and Apps hopes to provide some context, pointing out sites that can show you how rich you actually are. Read More make calculations like this simple).

Clearly it’s in your financial best interest to ditch your landline, but what should you replace it with?

Can I Just Use My Cell Phone?

cell-phone-home-phone-line-landline

Some of you might be asking: why have a landline at all? Why not just use a cell phone? Most people who entered adult life with a mobile device probably never considered getting a land line in the first place, but there are advantages to having an always-on phone in your house.

  • If reception is spotty near your home, a landline ensures call quality.
  • It can be useful to have a phone in the house for guests to make outgoing calls.
  • Landline phones are more comfortable tucked between your shoulder and neck.

This might not apply to you, of course, but that doesn’t mean having a home phone is useless to everyone.

What Should I Use Instead? Obihai and Google Voice

With these thoughts in mind I’ve been searching for the perfect VoIP setup – and I think I’ve found it. With it I can use a conventional dial-tone phone to make and receive calls, with no ongoing expense.

The secret: Obihai devices.

obihai-200-free-phone-calls

These little boxes, which start at around $50, are compatible with the landline phones you already have. With one, you can use a number of VoIP services to make and receive calls – including one that’s free.

Obihai devices work with Google Voice, Google’s free unlimited phone and voicemail service. This means you can make unlimited free calls to the USA and Canada, and receive calls to a dedicated (US) Google Voice number. Call display is supported, and you can even access your Google Voice voicemail from your home phone. Even better: it’s all pretty painless to set up.

Yes, Google Voice is a somewhat confusing technology that Google itself is slowly integrating into Hangouts The Best All-In-One Messaging & Calling App For Android: Google Hangouts The Best All-In-One Messaging & Calling App For Android: Google Hangouts What if there was one app that could do it all? Meet Google Hangouts for Android. Read More , but it’s not hard to see the value here: a one-time purchase of $50, and a few minutes of setting things up, can save you hundreds every year. And there are lots of other awesome things you can do with Google Voice 5 Awesome Things You Can Do With Google Voice 5 Awesome Things You Can Do With Google Voice Blog from your phone, call Canada for free or use your computer to make free phone calls. Google Voice isn't the easiest Google service to explain to non-techies, partially because it can be used for... Read More , including sending and receiving SMS free messages from your computer or mobile devices.

It’s worth noting that Google Voice can’t make 911 calls, but you can add this service to your Obihai device for $15 a year.

If Google Voice isn’t available where you live, Obihai is compatible with a wide range of other VoIP services, which we might review at a future date. All of them offer affordable calling rates.

Skype: A Potential Alternative.

In the past we’ve talked about using Skype as you primary home phone line How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line It's 2013 - stop paying for a land line. If you've got broadband Internet you can set up Skype, pay for a subscription and and keep your total home phone bill under $5 a month... Read More , and that can be affordable. For around $60 a year you can usually make and receive unlimited calls within a specific area, and if you need to connect with a faraway country frequency unlimited plans and local numbers are pretty powerful savings tools. But setting this up has gotten a bit more complicated, mostly because it’s harder to find dedicated Skype phones than five years ago. There’s no reason you couldn’t set up an old smart phone for this purpose, though.

And I’m sure there are other alternatives out there, which is why it’s time to turn this over to you. What’s the most affordable VoIP service you’ve found for replacing landlines? Let’s talk everything over in the comments below – I’m looking forward to the conversation.

  1. Jeff Swenson
    July 21, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Check out OurOldNumber.com. Uses your landline number to forward calls to any member of the family. Totally cloud based so no equipment or internet connection required. You can cancel your landline but keep your number. You'll save about $20 per month on average.

  2. Peter Colpaert
    May 20, 2016 at 6:26 am

    7% interest a year? i want a piece of that!

  3. Crystal
    January 12, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Any suggestions for someone who needs a landline or similar but only has access to satellite Internet? As far as I can tell VoIP is not an option. But our cells have very spotty coverage in our home. (Straight Talk, using Verizon towers)

  4. Bob T
    January 11, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Any info on whether you can use this for a line that's classified as business? I have and have had for 10 years a pretty sweet biz phone number that I'd like to keep - is there delineation between residential and business as far as what numbers can be hooked up to the Obihai and Google Voice? Looking to get rid of this stupid $60/month my provider charges for a simple line for business. Typically I just forward that number to my cell anyway.

    • Jennie
      September 9, 2016 at 1:13 am

      Hi, Bob
      If you are still looking for a solution, check out ouroldnumber.com which can provide service on their network using your number for a very low monthly cost. You keep your business number and calls to it are forwarded to your cell. You can even have up to 9 numbers in the directory, the caller to the business number chooses who they want to speak with and the call is forwarded to their cell.
      Jennie

  5. Nan
    December 2, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    frontier broad band I guess, alone no land line phone service is $35 with a land line my bill was $80 a month. so I dont have a phone . what can I use for a land line phone free? I dont have a cell phone.

  6. John Moore
    June 17, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    I use Skype as because it has such good voice quality, and because it is cheap. However, when I use it to talk to non-SIP phones (my primary usage), sometimes it has extremely long latency - as if it's taking a couple of hops through a satellite.

    I'd like something to replace it, but that runs on my computer, not that provides service to a POTS handset. I was hoping to find it here, but it's pretty hard to Google for that combination of requirements.

    • Justin Pot
      June 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Yeah, I'm not sure what to tell you – Skype is hard to replace for your set of requirements.

  7. David McCollam
    May 26, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Looks like Google Voice is still working on Obihai for now but not for much longer... http://blog.obihai.com/2014/05/the-google-voice-service-is-still.html

  8. Zarthan
    May 22, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Often times a bundled service uses VOIP rather than POTS.

    • Justin Pot
      May 22, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      In these cases you're almost always overpaying for VOIP.

  9. Robert W.
    May 22, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Please tell me where I can invest the money I would save to get 7%?

    • Justin Pot
      May 22, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      I mean, that's not an outrageous return for a standard mutual fund right now.

    • dragonmouth
      May 22, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      As of today, there are many funds that have returned 7% over the past year or three. However, there are very few that have consistently returned 7% over 10 years. Over the last 100-130 years the stock market has averaged 6%-7% gain. But that does not mean each and every year it went up by 6%. In 1929 and 1987 the market crashed, losing 20%-30%. There was a steady decline in the market from 2000-2001 until 2008-2009.

    • Justin Pot
      May 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      I'm personally more interested in the average over the long term than I am in the occasional anomaly. Once I invest money I don't think of it as an asset: I think of it as an employee that's out there earning more money for me. I won't be selling any of it for decades.

  10. Chinmay S
    May 22, 2015 at 9:54 am

    In India landlines don't cost much - $2 a month and $15 if you add Broadband Internet.

    • Justin Pot
      May 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      That seems alright to me! How does long distance work? Can you call anywhere in the country for that price?

  11. Paul
    May 21, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Forget the phone where can I get 7% on an investment of $40 a month? You need to get realistic on your interest rate.

    • Justin Pot
      May 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      That's what I'm getting from a standard mutual fund, maybe I should have looked up averages.

  12. ReadandShare
    May 21, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    "You think VOIP or Skype is gonna work when the power is out?"

    No, they won't work -- but then, landline isn't fool proof either. Nothing is.

    I've been using Obihai for almost three years now -- I bought the OBI 110 device from Amazon.com ($42 including tax - cheaping than the device suggested in this article) -- pairing it with Google Voice -- and haven't paid a single cent more for all the calls and texts that I've made within the US and Canada (I have family there). And no restrictions whatsoever -- I can call / text any cell or landline any time for however long I want.

    I also like the convenience of being able to use my normal cordless phones -- one in each room. No need to hunt all over the house for my cell phone when someone calls.

    Finally, with Google Voice, I have it set up where anyone calling my Google Number will ring all the phones -- including my cell.

    • William
      May 25, 2015 at 4:45 am

      I thought google voice stopped supporting the SIP protocol!? I use an UPS for when the power goes out for the modem,router,and obi.

    • Justin Pot
      May 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      The UPS is a good idea, I should look into that.

  13. Ed
    May 21, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Alternatively, you could buy an Ooma Telo and get unlimited local & long distance calling AND 911 service all for the price of local taxes. In my case it's about $4.30 per month.

    • Justin Pot
      May 23, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      That's not a bad idea!

  14. infmom
    May 21, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Wrong. Seriously. You think VOIP or Skype is gonna work when the power is out?

    And no way does a land line have to cost that much, if you pay attention. Check out "measured service" from the phone company. You get an allotment of calls per month (just like many cell phone plans) and you pay a small amount per call if you go over your allotment. This is outgoing calls only. Incoming calls are unlimited.

    Use your cell phone for long distance calls, since many plans have that built right in.

    • Justin Pot
      May 23, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      I've looked into "measured service" many times, my local company says it doesn't exist. Every time I ask it's not possible to get anything cheaper than $25, maybe I need to move to a more competitive market.

    • William
      May 25, 2015 at 4:41 am

      I use a Back-up UPS for when the power goes out, so the Cable modem --> Router --> Obi all run on the UPS.

  15. Gerry
    May 21, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    "...it’s not easy to see the value here: a one-time purchase of $50, and a few minutes of setting things up, can save you hundreds every year. "
    Doesn't seem too hard to me.

    • Justin Pot
      May 23, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks for catching that, fixed now!

  16. Simba
    May 21, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    If u have DSL(like CenturyLink)...it most likely comes with a landline(after all, DSL works over the phone line). It is actually more expensive to have DSL without a landline package.

    I actually get the landline "free" with their internet bundle....sure, I see the $30 charge on the bill for the phone package(unlimited local/long distance with all the features etc), but it is then discounted by $30 as part of the "bundle" thing. Ask them to remove the landline...and then my internet part goes up by $25..so it would cost me more to lose the landline. DSL companies do this because it does not cost them any more to implement landline service and DSL over the same wire. Actually, I would guess it would actually cost them money to have to split services.

    I almost never use my landline, but u can't beat the reliability and history of the POTS system. It always works. It has been used a few times over the years when storms knock out power for days and cell is dead or no signal. I don't trust "digital voice" or VOIP as a replacement to POTS (especially on Comcast internet). Internet/power goes down, network saturated, router issues, all affect the quality and reliability/availability of phone service. My experience with any VOIP service thus far, has been far from desirable.

    • Justin Pot
      May 22, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      I'm with CenturyLink, it's by far cheaper for me to go without the landline. I've looked into this, it always costs more to have the landline than to have only Internet.

    • Simba
      May 23, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Not true for me...as I mentioned in my comment. Their bundle package pretty much give me the landline free. May vary depending on your service area.

    • john
      September 7, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      with those bundles you start by paying less, but then you're probably locked in with a two year contract. and that promotional price goes up once after the first 12 months and then again after 24 months. at least that's how it is now with comcast.
      in my case it started out as around $50/mo for phone and internet, and now i'm paying $133/mo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *