End of landline service would be a hang-up for some

End of landline service would be a hang-up for some

CHAMPAIGN — Only about 10 percent of customers in AT&T's Illinois territory still use traditional landlines.

Tom Adair of Mansfield is one of them.

"I get a lot more calls on the landline, so I guess that's one reason I haven't dropped it," said Adair, who also has a cellphone.

"The whole reason I got a cellphone is because my kids gave it to me for my 70th birthday," he said while playing cards at the Stevick Senior Center in Champaign.

AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza told the Chicago Tribune in May that AT&T Illinois has 474,000 residential landline customers, along with 725,000 businesses, and it's losing 5,000 landline customers a week.

With a dwindling customer base, AT&T wishes it weren't required to provide traditional landline service on copper wires, and the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill ending that requirement.

But Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to veto this legislation over 911 surcharges included in the bill.

Even if it were to be signed, Adair said, he wouldn't mind if he lost his landline, something AT&T said it wouldn't require.

"It won't bother me any," he said. "It'll just be one bill less."

Adair fits the profile of a landline customer, AARP Illinois associate state director Julie Vahling said.

"According to our national office, four of six consumers using wireline are individuals of an older age demographic," she said.

Others rely on landlines for certain medical monitoring devices that transmit data over landlines.

Dottie Wolgemuth of Urbana said she prefers her landline to her cellphone for a variety of reasons.

"Up until recently, cellphone reception at my house was very spotty," she said. "So if I wanted a reliable service, I needed a landline. Now, that's gotten better recently, but I haven't switched."

She also said it's easier to use a landline.

"With a landline, you pick it up and maybe have to touch one button," Wolgemuth said. "On my cellphone, I've got to swipe, and sometimes it doesn't swipe, and it's so frustrating and by the time I answer the call, it's hung up already."

Eliminating landlines might work "for the elderly maybe in five, 10 more years so most of us die off," she said. "But I think it's a little soon to drop the landlines."

Rosalyn Roosevelt of Champaign figures she'll have to give up her landline eventually either because it's required or because prices increase, another thing AT&T says it wouldn't do.

"I won't be happy about it, but I'll be required to," she said. "My main thing is, I just hate to give up my phone number that I've had for 30 years."

That was a common reason for keeping a landline at the Stevick Senior Center, with some folks remembering telephone numbers from when they were kids.

"Grandma Adair was 1942," Adair said. "It was only four numbers back then."

"We have the same number we've had for 60 years. The number just moves with us," said Sharon Lumsden of Champaign.

She still has a landline, but it's not on the old copper network.

"It's all U-verse," she said. "We don't have any problems with it. It works for us."

Evelyn Stiene of Urbana said she's had the same number for 45 years.

She also said she's kept her landline because it's cheaper to keep the landline as part of the bundle she's in.

Stiene said she no longer answers her landline because it's always telemarketers. She also said she's adapted well to cellphones and wouldn't be too concerned if landlines went away.

"It wouldn't bother me," she said. "(My cellphone) is just part of me now."

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787 wrote on July 02, 2017 at 4:07 pm

It is easy to "port" a landline number to a cell phone, so it can be kept.  You just have to ASK the cellular provider to do it.  Shutting off a landline doesn't mean that you have to lose the number you've had for decades.

Too bad that Ben Ziegterman  failed to interview a cellular service provider about this, and include it as part of his story.  Typical sloppy News-Gazette, providing half of the story.

tonyquart wrote on July 05, 2017 at 8:07 pm

Those telemarketers make most people stop using land lines. I think the government should start to limit their scheme. I read at http://www.whycall.me/news/my-4500-payday-from-a-telemarketer/ about a woman who sued a company because of multiple violations that it has done to her. I think if people would do this to every telemarketer, they will stop because of the loss they will face to pay all the fines.