Verizon is considering doing just that, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
But for $5, customers will only be able to receive calls or dial 911. They can’t make any calls. Still, that’s not a bad price if you already have a cell phone and just want an emergency backup in case your cell phone battery dies.
The telephone company wants to boost or the dwindling number of landline users — it lost 3.7 million landlines or 9.3 percent of its base last year.
If the offer sounds tempting, keep in mind that the most basic landline services from AT&T and Verizon isn’t that expensive in the first place. AT&T just raised its rate to $13.50 a month, from $10.94. Low-income customers on AT&T’s Lifeline plan, meanwhile, pay between $1 to $6.11 per month (see AT&T’s California LifeLine page HERE).
Verizon, meanwhile, charges $16.85 to $24.14 for its basic flat-rate service. A regional plan for local calls starts around $11.
Other alternatives from the cellular and VoIP companies are being offered for as little as $10/month, although most require a separate high-speed Internet line. T-Mobile offers its @Home unlimited local and long-distance service for $10 a month. Vonage, a VoIP service, has a $17.99 monthly plan with unlimited incoming calls and 500 minutes of outgoing calls.
And don’t forget, even if you cancel phone service, Verizon and AT&T are supposed to keep the lines “warm” so you’ll be able to dial 911 in an emergency. A small bit of electricity will continue to flow through the lines so even if you don’t get a dial tone, the phone should light up. Read my earlier report on this: “911 still works if you discontinue phone service.”
More telephone news: Check out the Gadgetress Guide to local cell phone services. Related stories on landline telephone service: