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In an effort to rekindle some love for the old-school kitchen telephone, Verizon Wireless is getting set to roll out a brand-new touchscreen VoIP phone that offers visual voicemail, calendaring, text alerts, local traffic, weather reports and the ability to send turn-by-turn directions to Verizon Wireless phones. The new phone is called the "Verizon Hub." "The Verizon Hub reinvents the home phone system that's been centered on your kitchen counter for years," noted Mike Lanman, vice president and chief marketing officer at Verizon Wireless.
Have all these folks going 'cellphone only' considered that they may be giving up communications in disasters?
To the best of my knowledge the 'landline' telcos are the only folks whose networks are reasonably independent of other services. For example, they have battery back-up and back-up generators to maintain service when the power goes out. Cellphone towers tend to rely on local electric service and have at best limited battery back-up (many less than an hour).
Electric power line networks are far more 'fragile' in most disaster situations than landline telephone networks. Some of the reasons are that: they have considerably more 'overhead' service compared to telecos, their networks are far more susceptible to 'cascading' failures and in most instances they much longer to repair since the majority of landline telco repairs are simple broken lines that can be spliced without requiring new transformers or other special equipment.
Cellphone services have the ability to be even more 'rugged' than landline telcos or power companies if they choose to build towers that will withstand high winds, flying debris (to a reasonable extent) and have more than limited battery back-up. Unfortunately these are expensive provisions with little 'consumer value' in a competitive market.
For the moment, I plan to keep my landline with and supplement it with VOIP (for my business line) and cellphone (for my convenience). At this point in time, were I restricted to a single provider, the landline would win out.
In my opinion, basic landline service, combined with an answering machine and supplemented by calling cards for long distance is still the most economical and secure line of communication.