I was astounded to hear, on the Today programme on Radio 4 recently, the presenter announce that “the game is up for the landline” and that “the short period of our history in which most of us expected to have a landline in our homes is fast fading”. This is nonsensical for the following reasons (of which he and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, whom he quoted on this point are seemingly blissfully unaware):-
If 15% of households are ‘mobile only’, logic would tell us that, despite the scathing remark about households with landlines only being those belonging to “Mums and Dads”, the remaining 85 % of households still have landlines.
- Leading sleep clinics are now advising people to switch off all electronic devices in the bedroom before going to bed, in order to treat the insomnia that has reached epidemic levels. (For more info see: http://www.soothingspaces.co.uk/health/light-electronic-gadgets-interferes-sleep and http://www.soothingspaces.co.uk/health/exposure-tvs-computers-disrupts-childrens-sleep )
- It is often impossible to contact those who live in ‘mobile only’ households because their phones are frequently on silent, being charged or (hopefully, at night!) switched off, which could be dangerous in an emergency.
- Many people actually prefer to speak on a landline when possible because (a) the sound is better or (b) they don’t like the effects of prolonged exposure to a mobile phone. This includes some who are electro-sensitive, which I understand is now a recognised medical condition; whilst this is only diagnosed in a small number of people, it is likely to be affecting many others without having been officially diagnosed. (See also www.es-uk.info and www.powerwatch.org.uk )
- The statement fails to take into account that, not only (as admitted later in the presentation) “some places can’t rely on mobile internet at all” but also many areas have poor, intermittent or otherwise unreliable mobile signals altogether.
Of course, mobile phones are incredibly useful and most of us can’t imagine life without them, despite the drawbacks outlined above; however, let’s not write off landlines – and those who use them – as dinosaurs who will shortly be extinct! (And please do also be aware of the importance of protecting ourselves against mobile phone microwaves.)