We live in an age where land-line phones are going the way of the dinosaur; many opting to use their cell phone for home usage. Its fairly difficult these days to find a cell phone that isn’t the size of a credit card or smaller. Its even more difficult to convince those technically challenged love ones that they really should invest in one. The cell phones on the market currently are usually built to be very small, including small pad keys, making it virtually impossible for someone with vision impairment to operate. No sweat, get them a smart phone right? Well you could, but will it pass the learning curve? Change is difficult, especially for those that have stuck to their “system” for all these years.
My mother-in-law also fits into this category I mentioned. She was accustomed to a regular land-line phone all her life. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1988 which had a negative impact on her vision. We never had an issue finding her a telephone that featured the enlarged buttons for the visually impaired, but I’ve found nothing of the like in the cellular phone department. The closest match I did come across was a specialized phone developed by Samsung only available under the Jitterbug calling plan.
My biggest gripe with land-line service is the inflated costs and fees that go behind each one. Most likely the result of many years of service and inactive regulations. So, let me add this up, $6.50 for a dial-tone, some other fee to opt out of printing my number in a directory, etc. If you want the non-standard goodies like Caller ID, Call Waiting; that will be extra. Oh wait, don’t forget a long distance plan. After everything is tallied, you’re receiving $60+ bills in the mail. Compare that to a cell phone plan you may only be paying half of that for (depending on your minute and texting usage).
So given all this, how do you convince the traditionalists that going all cellular is a good idea? That’s the question I had when I needed to find a new cost efficient phone plan for my mother-in-law. We can add her as an extra user to our cellular plan for a cheap rate of $9.99 (plus other small fees). Then I came across the XLink cellular gateway. This device allows you to connect any Bluetooth capable cell phone and make and receive phone calls from a regular land-line phone. A pricier model offers the flexibility to attach an existing land-line and use it in conjunction with the cell phone service. The XLink isn’t the only cellular gateway device out there. Simply typing “cellular gateway” can bring you up a slew of results. Interestingly enough, I was at Radio Shack a few weeks ago and noticed this XLink device but only it was marketed as the Gigaset cellular gateway by Siemens. So I’m not really sure who the true manufacturer of the device is, but I have used it and it works perfectly.
A few important issues to keep in mind before going all cellular in your household. If you need to send or receive faxes, or dial out with a modem; this will not work for you. There is, however, a number of online fax services that you can use to transmit and receive faxes via the Internet (ie. eFax, myFax). If you rely on land-line phone service for a home security system, this will also not work as the alarm system isn’t just simply dialing a number, but is really connecting to the monitoring station via a built-in modem (trust me, I’ve tried). Most security alarm companies do offer a proprietary cell phone service just for the system though. I know that Alarm.com systems do this. Also remember that if the power goes out in the house, that will cause the cellular gateway to shut off as well unless you have it plugged into a battery backup (UPS) device. That’s the one advantage of traditional land-line service; the power for the phone line is powered by the central office. Although, this is meaningless if your land-line phone system requires external power for cordless phone transmission or answering machine.