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Communications

You've Dropped Your Landline — Now What? 635

Posted by timothy
from the copper-makes-great-bullet-jackets dept.
smurphmeister writes "My wife and I recently moved up to the world of cell phones, after taking our sweet time to make sure this whole newfangled technology was going to stick around. We moved the old landline phone number to her phone, so we're disconnected from the pole. Now the question is, what to do with the copper already in our house? My first thought was an intercom system, but that just seems so old school! So what ideas do you all have for what to do with the 4 little wires running to every room of my house?"
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You've Dropped Your Landline — Now What?

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  • by hedronist (233240) * on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:01PM (#28202233)
    • The copper is not worth that much.
    • The jacks are probably daisy-chained together. A PBX (what we have in our house) normally requires home-runs from each jack, so that isn't going to work for you.
    • There are charging cradles that will allow you to use your cell phone to supply dialtone to your TwenCen phones. That way you don't have to run all over the house looking for the cellphone.
    • If you ever sell your house, the new owner may say WTF?
    • by Jake73 (306340) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:32PM (#28202725) Homepage

      Just leave it alone.

      If you're really itching, hook it up to some broadband interference generator. That'll really mess with the feds.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:37PM (#28202801)

      • There are charging cradles that will allow you to use your cell phone to supply dialtone to your TwenCen phones. That way you don't have to run all over the house looking for the cellphone.

      If I ever hear anybody use the term "TwenCen" to refer to the twentieth century, I will have to go medieval on your ass (yes, yours, as I highly doubt anyone sane would use such a term on their own, so if anyone else does, I declare it your fault and your fault alone).

      Or maybe Napoleonic on your ass. At a stretch, Victorian or Elizabethan. At any rate, it certainly wouldn't be some sissy TwenCen on your ass. Those people were pansies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Why a PBX? If youre that serious then run your own wire. For existing wire you can buy a little VOIP box that will run through you existing wiring and ring your analog phones. I got one of these [dlink.com] for 5 dollars when I first gave up on a land line. Ive since gotten rid of it and do cell-only, but it works.

    • "TwenCen"? Are you serious? I sure hope "Brangelina" and "Tomkat" don't find out about this.

      I want to icepick someone now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Errmmm... have you ever seen telephone wire? I can't imagine there would be more than few ounces of it in his entire house. The effort of stripping off the insulation wouldn't be worth it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:02PM (#28202259)

    Use it as a guide line for ethernet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AZScotsman (962881)
      Most likely the phone line is already Twisted Pair, so assuming it's CAT5, it's easy to change over to Ethernet. One idea I had was to install cameras at central points (doors, windows, etc) and set up tablet PC's with a simple web interface to pull up images from the cams.

      Heard a noise at night? just go to the tablet on the wall, scan the cameras, and alert the authorities if necessary.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Thaelon (250687)

        Heard a noise at night? just go to the tablet on the wall, scan the cameras, and alert the authorities if necessary.

        Yes, the first thing I want to do if I hear a noise at night is put my face up to a wall, highlight my silhouette, ruin my night vision, and fiddle with some electronics.

        Correction, I'll go downstairs with a bat, or gun, and a really bright flashlight to blind any intruder with before I bat them. And if it's a miscreant child, blind them and scare the shit out of them so they'll stop sneaking

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Or just run a network over the phone lines [howstuffworks.com].
  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tanman (90298) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:03PM (#28202271)

    I know! You'll need to make a weapon. Look around; can you construct some sort of rudimentary lathe?

  • A few thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekiegreg (674773) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:03PM (#28202275) Homepage Journal

    1) If you got the budget, rip it out, replace with Cat6, if Fiber to the home comes to yours, you'll thank me later :-)

    2) The intercom idea isn't bad, depends on the size of your house (what happened to "just yelling" sheesh)

    3) Just yank out all the copper and sell it, few bucks anyways

    At any rate I'd make sure you're real sure you like being away from your landline. Give that decision a 6 month wait period before you decide to recycle your wires one way or another.

    • I'm in the same situation as the poster. I have phone jacks everywhere I don't need, and I wish they were all Cat5.

      Is there any way to run ethernet over phone lines?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by raynet (51803)

        Maybe not ethernet but one could run Phonenet with the copper wires and use Appletalk over it.. *hhrrrrr*

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      At any rate I'd make sure you're real sure you like being away from your landline. Give that decision a 6 month wait period before you decide to recycle your wires one way or another.

      I dropped my land line a few years ago, and haven't missed it at all.

      However now that I own my own house* I'm considering trying to get the cheapest land line service possible. The reason is simply that in the past there have been times when a storm would kill cell phone service, even knock out the power, but phone-over-copper

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:17PM (#28203363)

      3) Just yank out all the copper and sell it, few bucks anyways

      Copper from telephone lines: +$20
      Drywall repair bill: -$200
      Advice from Slashdot: Priceless

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        Drywall?
        Unscrew wall plate.
        Pop off any nearby staples securing the line to a stud.
        Pull.

  • by emj (15659)
    FastEthernet should be able to run over 2 pairs. :-)
  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:05PM (#28202307) Journal

    There's more important things to worry about.

    Move on.

  • Xlink (Score:5, Informative)

    by hidden72 (229930) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:07PM (#28202337)

    Get one of these:

    http://www.myxlink.com/index.aspx

    And keep the legacy landline handsets in the house. This way, no matter where you are in the house, whether or not the cellphone is with you, you can still make/receive calls - leveraging your cell minutes.

    You can probably integrate that with an Asterisk VoIP system and get additional things like intercom, room-to-room dialing, etc.

    • Re:Xlink (Score:4, Informative)

      by LoveMuscle (42428) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:00PM (#28203135)

      I have an Xlink BTTN and I love it. I am no longer running around the house wondering where I left my cell phone, because it's in its charging cradle right next to the Xlink. The only major draw back to this device is that text messages are not forwarded to the landline so my friends texting me while I'm at home tend to get ignored until I leave the house. I'm not sure how you would actually forward them however, since I know the landline phones in my house couldn't deal with it..

    • That's apparently a good one: Pairs with up to 3 cellular phones (plus a landline if you buy the appropriate model). Searches for a free trunk or lets you select the outgoing phone. Lets you switch between calls on different cellphones ala call-waiting. Forwards caller ID info to the POTS phones on incoming calls. Supports pulse dial as well as tone so you can use antique phones.

      Here's another one (only two lines): Cell2Tel [cell2telgateway.com]

      A third one is Dock-n-Talk which can be connected either by wire or bluetooth (

  • Get something like this [wirelesspro.com] and you can be wired and wireless at the same time.
  • VLF sender (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I suggest using them for a transmitter for Very Low Frequencies (VLF), so you can chat with u-boats and scuba diving friends.

  • A few ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:13PM (#28202435)
    Morse code communication system.
    Connect it to your computer for music everywhere.

    Now a real thought. Do you have, or are you going to have kids. At some point you will have to let the communicate, and a cell phone may not be a good option. If this is the case you may wish in just a few years that you had left the phone lines alone.
  • I'm going to have to say "leave it." If you want to run an intercomm, it'll be useful for the wires as guides, but due to the set up, you're never going to find something useful to send over the wires themselves. Find something you DO want in every room, and just run alongside, since all the holes in the studs should be pre-drilled for you.

  • AM radio! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bzzfzz (1542813) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:16PM (#28202479)
    They might make good AM radio antennas. You know, the kind of radio where you can listen to ideas too far off in the ideological fringes to make it onto the Internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nsayer (86181)

      the kind of radio where you can listen to ideas too far off in the ideological fringes to make it onto the Internet

      Alas, it looks like the fringes have [moveon.org] already [motherjones.org] arrived [chomsky.info].

      • Re:AM radio! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by delirium of disorder (701392) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:38PM (#28203637) Homepage Journal

        I've never heard Chomsky or Mother Jones on the AM radio. I also wouldn't consider your examples "fringe".

        Moveon is solidly pro-Democratic party, that's probably to the right of the American people. Democrats support corporate bailouts, drug wars, terror wars, etc. The American people do not.

        Chomsky and Mother Jones might be a little to the left of the American mainstream, but would fit right with moderate European social democrats. I'd hardly call that fringe.

        If you want to give examples of the radical left, check out crimethinc [crimethinc.com], bash back [wordpress.com], or infoshop.org [infoshop.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kindbud (90044)

        If that's the fringe, then so [whitehouse.gov] are [rnc.org] these [rushlimbaugh.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Penguinshit (591885)
      I prefer PM radio.
  • easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [erauqssemitelcric]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:16PM (#28202483) Homepage Journal

    in-home telegraph system

    imagine the envy and awe of your friends and neighbors as you show off a morse telegraph key in every room

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:18PM (#28202509)

    Rig up a some doorbell switches, D cell batteries and bulbs to use as a signalling device that you need another bottle of beer

  • Nerdkits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by delta419 (1227406) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:18PM (#28202515)
    DO NOT remove the wire. In this economy, it's hard enough selling your house as it is... If your nerd level is high enough, I recommend interfacing it all with a nerdkit... alarm clock in every room, irritating beeper that goes off every 15 minutes, lights that flash when you get a new email, maybe even "backup lighting" (preferably red) for when your main power goes down...
  • ...my house has a land line connection. LOL! The memories. I think I destroyed part of the line along the side of my house about 4 years ago with a weed-eater. My advice? Do what I did - forget the line is there (except don't completely forget and ruin it on accident like I did :)
  • If you live close enough to a phone switch you can get DSL. I don't know what else it can be used for right now.

    Falcon

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HomePNA [wikipedia.org]

    While technically possible...it's not really financially viable.

  • Get a stand alone adaptor for Skype/ other VoIP system (SIP?) and hook in your old landline phones to that. Cheaper internet calls out, emergency and incoming calls to your mobiles. Best of everything. And fairly easy to convert back to being wired into the normal telephone network!

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:25PM (#28202607) Homepage
    Get a cell phone docking station and plug your house wiring into the cell phone. There are several available: Dock-N-Talk, Cell Socket. Example: Cell Docking Station [hellodirect.com]. Simply google "cell socket" to get more results.
  • Free Electricity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ffejie (779512) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:32PM (#28202727)
    Can you grab the few volts of electricity off of the line that the phone company is sending you for free?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:34PM (#28202745)

    Depending on which state you live in, the phone company may be required to provide a "soft dial tone" so that you can continue to make free 911 calls with a land line phone. In this case, it would be extremely foolish to remove or mess around with the phone lines. In an emergency, you may not be able to 100% rely on your cell phone to have a charged battery, get signal, etc. If your wife starts having a heart attack, you may not have time to run across the house and grab a charger if the battery is dead or reset the phone if it freezes.

  • Save it for 911 (Score:3, Informative)

    by RoboRay (735839) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:36PM (#28202779)

    Plug your old corded phone back in, so you can still call 911 in an emergency when the power is out and the cell towers are either down or jammed to capacity. AFAIK, all local phone companies in the US are required to still connect 911 calls, even if you're not paying for service.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:37PM (#28202787)

    Maybe you're doing most of your chatting on the cell but there's still some good reasons for a landline:

    1) home fax machine
    2) landline more likely to function in an emergency as cell systems usually overload and are unavailable
    3) landline call to 911 is more likely to show your address to the dispatcher possibly saving your life with a faster response
    4) landline will not be lost or misplaced
    5) landline more likely to continue to function during an electrical power failure
    6) landline can provide emergency dial-up internet service
    7) landline will not expose you to uhf radiation
    8) landline will not suffer from battery failure
    9) landline will not suffer from poor signal quality
    10 landline is legally much more difficult for authorities to eavesdrop on

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:03PM (#28203171)

      1) home fax machine

      myfax.com - $10 a month, PDF to your email, way more convenient

      2) landline more likely to function in an emergency as cell systems usually overload and are unavailable

      cablecompany (shaw.ca) home phone, cheaper than regular PSTN, never noticed it going down.

      3) landline call to 911 is more likely to show your address to the dispatcher possibly saving your life with a faster response

      cablecompany (shaw.ca) home phone, registered address for 911. Any reputable VOIP provider will handle this.

      4) landline will not be lost or misplaced

      Do you mean physically losing your cell phone? Can't really correct for that, not a technical issue, more of a PEBKAC issue.

      5) landline more likely to continue to function during an electrical power failure

      No more so than a good VOIP provider (i.e. the one that also owns your infrastructure).

      6) landline can provide emergency dial-up internet service

      I can't even imagine checking my email over dialup anymore let alone web browsing/etc. I'd rather just go to the nearest coffee shop.

      7) landline will not expose you to uhf radiation

      which is non-ionizing, and you probably don't live in a Faraday cage so it's a moot point.

      8) landline will not suffer from battery failure

      Actually yes it can, what do you think powers the phone infrastructure in your neighborhood when the power goes out? Magic elves? You can always buy a second battery or a USB battery powered charger.

      9) landline will not suffer from poor signal quality

      Not a problem in this city or any city I've been to recently.

      10 landline is legally much more difficult for authorities to eavesdrop on

      Uh no. the legality of a wiretap doesn't change if it's traditional PSTN/VOIP/cell/etc. Plus if you're worried about wire tapping using disposable prepaid cell phones and rotating them often is probably a lot more secure.

    • by ExRex (47177) <(elliot) (at) (ajoure.net)> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:08PM (#28203225) Homepage

      When the blackouts come only the landlines keep working. When the cell tower batteries run down, after 4 hours or so, there goes your phone.
      Here in NYC we get a major blackout every decade or so, even if the larger region does not, so I always keep a landline at the cheapest rate.
      Redundancy isn't just for hard drives.

  • by Paracelcus (151056) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:43PM (#28202887) Journal

    And you don't have any doubt about the reliability of the cell system?
    And in an emergency where POTS is the only functioning technology.
    Mature systems that have been tested in dire situations, old fashioned switched telephones and HAM radios come to mind.
       

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:44PM (#28202895)

    Not that any Slashdotter would know anyone that might get arrested.... Still one should be aware that in many places (like Texas) your "Phone Call" has to be a collect phone call through some third party (don't know the name of the third rate company in Texas), and they won't make a collect call to a cell phone.

    So.... If the police show up at your daughter's apartment because of a domestic disturbance call, and she isn't entirely interested in letting them search the house (like she is studying for finals barefoot in her night gown after finally kicking out her very loud boyfriend) .... And the police are so worried that she is being held against her will and being beaten up by her boy friend that they throw her on the ground and beat her up and haul her to jail....

    THEN when she tries to call you and you have no land line.... You will not be disturbed.

    THEN she will get tossed barefoot on the streets at 4:30 am in her night gown in downtown Austin Texas and will finally give you a call when she borrows a phone from a construction worker....

    AND you will be thankful that you got 45 extra minutes sleep.

    I am not entirely clear why so many states like Texas have decided that it is a great idea to only give people the right to a COLLECT phone call to a LAND LINE ONLY in this day and age, but that is the way it is.

    TRUE STORY.

  • by daybot (911557) * on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:49PM (#28202973)

    Ideas for future Ask Slashdot articles:

    1. Just took a bath. What to do with the bathwater?
    2. I've just picked my nose. Suggestions?
    3. Profit!! Now what should I do with all these gold bars?
  • VCR rabbit (Score:3, Funny)

    by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:07PM (#28203219) Journal

    http://www.amazon.com/RABBIT-VCR/dp/B001F87TWI [amazon.com] :-P

    Everyone in the house can watch you play Ultima V on your C64 or you can play old school VHS pr0n in EVERY ROOM!

  • by AxelTorvalds (544851) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:23PM (#28203443)
    Unless you're somehow going to make it "better," I'd just do nothing with the old wires.

    Maybe put nice blank plates over the jacks if it bothers you that much. By "better" I'd say fishing cat 5, cat6, or structured wiring to each jack and then home running them somewhere. A loop is no good, you'll only make what's there worse with any other scheme.

    The only thing worse than trying to un-fuck the wiring in a new place you just bought because the last owner did some "project" is being that home owner and trying to get it all unfucked on your own because an inspector told the potential buyers that the wiring is all screwed up. Trust me on this. Your wife will be a defcon 0 with the stress of moving. You'll be either paying two mortgages or dealing with the close on your new place, trying to get things timed just right. (And they never can time things "just right.") The new buyers will be ready to close yesterday, except for the list of stupid crap you need to fix and or explain. A contractor will want to tear up walls and fix it that way, for a couple grand (maybe more if they know you're bent over the table) and you'll have to re-clean the place with that lovely drywall dust just about everywhere... And it's going to be about 200 degrees in your attic where you cleverly "hid" most your dirty work... If you're there forever, then knock yourself out, but if you plan on selling the place, just realize that a lot of people still like to have phones in rooms and phone service (even Vonage or 8x8 or whatever can run over the old loop if you plug it in to the house instead of a phone)

    Or maybe the new buyer will get a kick out of your "intercom" system or home brewed HPNA, with the speaker about 2 feet off the ground where the phone jack was... You never know.

  • Appletalk! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:33PM (#28203569)

    I bet you can find those Farallon dongles on ebay for real cheap.

    My mother in law still has an appletalk-ethernet gateway on her shelf.

  • Landmine (Score:5, Funny)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:37PM (#28203619)

    I read this as "landmine".

    I expected a story about a soldier placing land mines, dropping one, and being stuck in one of those "oh shit I can't move or I'll blow up" situations.

  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:39PM (#28203659)

    Leave it alone.

    If you sell the house it will be there for the next person.

    Really, why mess up perfectly operational systems just because you are not using it at the moment?

  • New product ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:43PM (#28203703)
    I know you can get cordless telephones with built in sim card support that supports up to 6 handsets around the home (Siemens Gigaset comes to mind) but no one as far as I know is making anything that interfaces the mobile provider to your normal telephones/copper, maybe this needs to be looked at ?
  • Wi-Fi (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nekomusume (956306) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:50PM (#28203793)

    Turn your home into a giant wi-fi antenna. You could then either open it up to other to use, or keep it locked down, and brag to your friends that you can connect to the net from halfway accross the city. Or both.

  • Emergency lighting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prodangle (552537) <matheson@gmPARISail.com minus city> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:08PM (#28203961) Homepage Journal
    How about hooking up some low-power emergency lighting around the house - even LEDs would be useful to let you find your way around. You could also tap into the mains ring, so if power drops a small set of lights could come on. You might even be able to neatly recess some small bulbs into your skirting, or lower down in the wall. I'm sure it would break the rules on any service plan with your landline provider, and may even be illegal, but if done well it would be very cool and also pretty useful.
  • Signal to Noise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:24PM (#28204579) Journal

    Leave the wires alone. You may need them again.

    That said, feel free to mod this off topic if you like, but the question in the title made some of the voices in my head yell stuff at me that makes sense, of a sort.

    The author of TFA went to cellular phone only, dropping wired service. In most cases/comparisons cell service costs more than wired service. That comes with benefits, primarily portability, but the fact remains.

    I used to install home TV antennae for my dad's TV shop. For $200 or less a home could get 5 to 10 years of service picking up signals broadcast over the air. Portable TVs could with rabbit ears and loops could, in our area, pick up the same 10 stations (VHF and UHF) as the big rig fed to the house. For that matter even larger TVs came with rabbit ears back then, making the rooftop gear unnecessary. Then along came cable and direct satellite, and we get our TV fed to us by wire and/or receiver boxes, and pay a good deal for the feed.

    In the first case we trade hard wired for unwired, and we pay more. In the second we trade soft- or unwired for hardwired, and we pay more. As I said, it makes sense of a sort, but some of the voices keep saying "huh?".

  • by sorak (246725) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @09:29AM (#28208515)
    Are you sure you're never going back? I felt the same way, until my son was born. Because my mother and my wife's mother take turns babysitting when we are at work (and they don't have cell phones), we ended up getting a Vonage phone so that they would have some way to dial 911 in an emergency.

    We have considered changing over to something like magic jack, because it can cut the price on a service we never use, but I have my reservations due to the way they do 911.

    Anyway, the odds of this being relevant to you are low, but the point is that whatever plan you go with, try to make it future-proof. Some things to consider are:
    1. Baby sitters may need a phone for emergencies, or just so you can check in kids, if and when you have them.
    2. Some people have had success using the existing wiring to make vonage service work like a traditional landline network.
    3. Someone else mentioned that a lack of phone wires may hurt resale value on your house. I would agree.

    FWIW...

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

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