(BPT) - It seems more and more of us are “cutting the cord” these days, moving away from hard-wired connections to cable TV, internet service and more. The freedom to go wireless offers options that we couldn’t have imagined just five or 10 years ago — you can stream movies on your phone while sitting in the backyard, or do a Google search as you wait in line at the grocery store.
The last bastion of hard-wired service, the good old home telephone, is undergoing this transformation as well. Cellular providers now offer devices that let you turn your traditional home phone into a line on your cellular account. You keep your home phone number, and even continue using your existing home telephone. But you’re no longer required to stay tethered to phone jacks — nor do you have to keep your home phone at home.
Small device, simple setup
Wireless home phone service is offered under various names — usually Wireless Home Phone or Home Phone Connect. It allows a regular wired telephone to connect to cellular networks as if it were a mobile phone.
Connections are made via a small device you can place almost anywhere in your home. It’s about the size of a wireless router, and contains the necessary electronics to provide voice-only telephone service to your phone from one or two jacks on the back of the unit. It also has a small radio antenna and a transceiver for the wireless side of the connection.
The only plug-ins required are your phone (or its charging base) into one of the rear jacks, and a power cord. Most wireless home phone devices also include LED indicator lights on the front to show signal strength and indicate waiting voicemail messages.
Savings on landline, long distance
If you already have cellphone service, you can add wireless home phone to your account for the cost of purchasing the device (expect to pay around $50), plus the cost of adding a secondary line for the service, which can be as little as $10 per month.
With most carriers, you’ll simply share the airtime minutes on your existing monthly cellular plan with your home phone line. Nationwide coverage is also a feature of most cellular calling plans, so in addition to your redundant landline service, you eliminate the need for a long distance carrier. There are even special rates just for seniors: for instance, Consumer Cellular, which specializes in service to users over 50 years of age, offers no-contract, post-paid plans at discounted rates to AARP members.
If you don’t currently have cellular service, you can still convert your landline to mobile simply by ordering a wireless home phone device, then signing up for a monthly service plan that covers the number of minutes you’re likely to use each month.
Never miss a call — anywhere you go
Wireless home phone service redefines the meaning of “home.” The device is completely portable, so your service is, too; you can make and receive calls anywhere you have access to a cellular signal and an electrical outlet. Set it up anywhere you want in your home — you’re no longer restricted to locations near a wall jack.
Perhaps more significantly, you can take it with you to a second home, a hotel or even a campsite and still receive calls made to your home telephone number, if cellular reception and a power source are available. It also works well with home phones that have additional handsets. By connecting the wireless home phone device to the base of your primary cordless phone, it becomes accessible to your other cordless extensions, giving you even more calling flexibility.
Making the cut
Like any cord cutting measure, wireless home phone service isn’t necessarily for everybody. Your telephone service becomes completely dependent on a cellular signal — if, for instance, the nearest cell tower experiences an outage, you’ll be unable to make anything except emergency calls. There’s also no data signal on the line, so wireless home phone devices can’t be used with medical monitoring devices or fax machines.
But if you’ve been seeking a way to cut the costs of your landline service while also keeping your longtime home telephone number, it offers a practical and affordable solution. You save on monthly service, eliminate long distance charges, and the portability offers true modern luxury, especially for “snowbirds” or retirees who travel frequently. It’s a nice way to make yourself feel at home — wherever you go!