AT&T: Without a landline phone, you could die

AT&T and an associated group of telecommunications companies under the name "National Emergency Number Association" (NENA) released the results of a June survey which concludes that Americans need to have an emergency communications plan based around a landline connection.

"A big part of this is knowing about the options available for dialing 911," NENA Chief Executive Officer, Brian Fontes said in a statement. "The more choices you have to reach 911 in an emergency, the better, and a corded landline phone should be one of those options. It provides the security of a home phone line connection to 911 so that in most cases first responders know your home address."

Landline abandonment is a trend that just keeps growing, and AT&T's fixed line subsidiaries are employing tried and true fear-based marketing to stanch the persistent customer loss.

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics released a survey for the first half of 2008 which showed that 17.5% of American homes were wireless only, and that among homes with both wireless and wireline phones a further 13.3% did all or almost all of their calling on their wireless phone. By the second half of the year, the number of wireless-only homes had jumped 2.7 percentage points, the largest 6-month increase in the six years NHIS has been doing the surveys.

AT&T therefore says a home base connection is simply a security essential, citing such crises as -- taken verbatim from the company's report -- "that time you discovered you were allergic to peanuts," or losing your cell phone.

While it is true that unlike mobile phones, a landline can work with no electrical power, and that emergency preparedness is always wise, there's an equal number of situations where a landline will not come in handy:

1. You live alone.

2. Your home is engulfed in flames and you're forced outside.

3. An escaped murderer is hiding in your attic (see 2.)

4. There is a telecommunications workers' strike.

5. An emergency happens when no one is home.

These are all situations where the redundant connection (mobile) becomes the fallback option. But the problem is that maintaining a legacy connection is costly, and when customers are receiving comparable service from their wireless or cable VoIP providers, they're really being presented with no incentive to keep paying.

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