I have a friend that does technical sales to one of the companies that sell land lines into homes. He told me a story about his latest visit. These telephone companies know that land lines are a dying breed of technology but evidently they are in a panic on how quick it is happening. I still have a land line phone but I keep looking at it with disdain. It’s expensive, and is more of an annoyance than it is beneficial. It’s only a matter of time until I cancel the home phone.
What if it didn’t need to be that way? What if it could be truly useful to me? What would it take and what would it cost? To be honest, the price can stay the same if they give me these tools:
1. Web site administration – In the 21st century, I want a simple web site that I can log into and administer all of my phone functions. Vonage has had this *for-ev-er*! Need this or the deal is off and my home land line goes bye-bye.
2. Caller ID/Phone book – Yes, everyone has this, but I want to be able to administer the caller ID through a web interface. Because phone companies allow Caller ID spoofing, I want to be able to override the Caller ID. Instead of the caller ID showing “Merchant SVC” as an example, I should be able to set the caller ID to be “Dont Answer” or “FONEBOT” or “Jerkoid” or “POLITICIAN” or whatever I set. At the same time, “Cell Phone GA” becomes “Kevin Cully” when I call home from my cell phone. Right now I’m thinking “Boy, that phone number looks familiar. Should I take a chance and answer it?” Please help me manage the incoming calls.
3. Dump Calls – Google voice has this. Again this isn’t rocket science. I want to dump phonebots into the trash. Dump “PRIVATE” callers automatically into Voice Mail. Shouldn’t I be able to administer this myself?
4. Call routing/Simultaneous Ring – This should be included with any package above the basic package. This would have kept land lines in place with just this feature. Allow me to ring other phones (cell phones? Hmmm?) at the same time. This way my home phone would have kept being my main phone line with cell phones being supplemental.
5. Voicemail delivery options – Again Vonage, Skype, and Google Voice all have this. Give me the option to transcribe the voicemail and email it to me, or attach it as an WAV or MP3 file. So basic.
6. Video phones – I know this might have required DSL upgrades, but with a small subsidy of a hardware manufacturer, a video phone should be able to have a graphics chip that does massive compression on a video stream to allow it to happen over land lines. Grandma would *love* this feature. Once we have this on cell phones, land lines are even more dead than they are now.
Only #6 is difficult and/or expensive. These land line phone companies deserve to die because they failed to innovate and spent all of their time and energy on maintaining their monopoly and working with the government to keep it so. In the end, the land line will die but it didn’t need to be so.
Goodbye land lines. I wish I could say it was a pleasure to know you.