Monday, 27 November, 2000

Using a Cell Phone as a Home Phone?

I've had a mobile phone (I keep wanting to say "cell phone", but it's digital) for almost three years now.  Whether I actually need the thing is sometimes debatable, but it has gotten me out of tough spots a couple of times.  Back when I got the phone, I just knew that within a year I'd be able to replace my land line with the mobile.  Guess I was wrong on that one.  I could get rid of the land line, but it would be very inconvenient.  One nice thing about my land line is that I have 5 phones in the house.  Whatever room I'm in, I'm only a couple of steps away from the phone when it rings.  Better yet, most of the phones are reasonably comfortable to use.  The mobile, on the other hand, I would have to cart around with me (or try to find it when it rings), and talking on the silly thing is uncomfortable.  I just can't rest this little phone on my shoulder like I can a regular telephone handset.

Why hasn't somebody come up with a digital phone docking station that I can plug into my home telephone wires?  It seems like it'd be easy enough to do.  When somebody calls my digital phone then, the docking station acts like the telephone central station; sending the ring voltage down the line and providing the voice signal on the proper wires.  Similarly, if I picked up any phone in the house I'd get a dial tone (provided by the docking station) and could place my call, which would be relayed to the digital phone.  This isn't rocket science.  All of the technology is available, and probably darned cheap.  The stock in digital phone manufacturers has been depressed for a while now, in part because shareholders are worried that the market is no longer growing.  Reasonably priced, this docking station could rejuvenate the digital phone market.  Heck, I'd buy a new phone if I could get one of these docking stations.

Digital service providers could take a huge bite out of the residential phone market.  Sprint PCS, for example, is currently offering a plan that gives you 1,500 minutes of air time for $35 per month.  That's 250 anytime minutes and 1,250 night and weekend minutes.  Long distance included!  Guess what?  Most of my telephone time is at night or on the weekends.  My monthly residential phone service costs me upwards of $20 per month just for basic service, and long distance easily puts me over the $35 mark.  I'd willingly part with $400 for a new phone and docking station so I could eliminate my residential telephone charges.  I'd be money ahead in less than a year.  Just give me the wire cutters.

Combined with a PDA/phone device (see November 12), this docking station would be a Must Have.