A recent story concerned telecom companies wanting an end to fixed lines, but such a move is wrong if you are serious about telephone service as a lifeline, particularly for seniors.
When there is a severe storm, such as a hurricane, cell phone towers and their associated equipment are likely to fail, resulting in lost service, as happened to millions of BellSouth's Florida customers a few short years ago.
Additionally, in times of major disasters, people use their cell phones to call 911 or their loved ones and the system becomes overloaded. Calls for help could not be made during the Virginia Tech massacre because of a jammed network, and the same thing happened with the East Coast earthquake last August. You also are likely to lose power because of the destruction of overhead power lines. Not only can you not charge your battery, but the loss of power to your computer also will prevent you from using Internet services, such as Skype.
Another point is that with the strong demand for increased bandwidth because of the tremendous popularity of high-speed mobile data services from smartphones, it seems clear that demand will soon outstrip capacity.
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Land-line networks are not immune from the impact of natural disasters, especially from flooding, as with Hurricane Katrina, but I will surely continue to keep my old-fashioned telephone and use the basic cell phone service as a life-line when on the road.