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  • Writer's pictureJohn O'Rangers

Land Lines: Are They Still Relevant In 2024?

Today's "Big Dummy" post for you:

Land lines and where they're still relevant: Security Systems

Yes, yours truly is the "Big Dummy" on this one. I had an "error and omission" and thought I'd pass this along. The big lesson here is understanding what people mean. For example, when a prospective employer says, "we need someone with 5 years' experience", that's their way of politely saying they don't want any screwups. In the spirit of that, whenever I screw up, you get the benefits from it.

Here's the story. My parent's home, which I am responsible for now, has a security system. To my parent's credit, they spent some dime on it and it's a high-end system. Motion and glass breaking detectors, doors, fire, all the goodies. But there's one problem with it: it's old, dating back to 1995. That's almost 30 years ago so that is something to consider.

The good news is that despite the vintage, the system was always maintained and works perfectly. In fact, just a short while back when Mom was still living (October '22), she had an incident with the smoke alarm that sent the fire company over there. To be totally transparent, if you recall the day when everything changed and I became her caregiver, it was this alarm that saved her life at the time. Despite the age of the system, I have full confidence in its capabilities.

I will warn you though that there is one issue with it, and those of you out there with older systems in your homes might want to heed my warning on this one. 1995 was essentially the pre-cellular era. These systems are land line dependent for monitoring purposes. If you don't have a land line anymore, guess what? Your alarm isn't able to call out in the event of an emergency.

The good news is that the technology with these alarms really hasn't changed all that much. The big difference nowadays is that most new systems are wireless and cellular. My shop system has battery powered sensors and a 4G module that calls out. It also is more glitchy because the cellular signal sometimes dips, and I get calls from ADT telling me about it. But alas, that's how the newer systems work.

Does that mean an older system is bad? In my opinion not at all. In fact, the type of system in this particular home is a workhorse and there are millions of similar ones out there still providing reliable service. What it does mean though is that you still need a land line for it to function. Where I was "Big Dummy" was in this area. That house still has an active land line; however, Verizon hadn't been maintaining it well. Because I wasn't using it, I didn't realize that there was no dial tone. There was a problem out on the street. It's corrected now and all is as it should be.

What are the takeaways from my "Big Dummy" incident? If you have an older system in your home, or perhaps you've recently moved into one with something like this in place, don't necessarily write it off. If it's been well maintained, the system can and will work very well and can likely be activated. More importantly, remember that I mentioned the technology hasn't changed drastically, so it likely can be updated. The system in question in this case can have the land line disconnected and a cellular module installed in its place. Whether you should do that or not depends on your needs and certainly costs should be factored in. It might be cheaper to go that route, and my initial look at that is suggesting it is.

I will say this about staying on land line. My experiences with the street problem notwithstanding, a land line generally is very reliable and often works when the power goes out or the cell towers are down. I wouldn't necessarily write it off for the sake of having the latest and greatest. This system also has battery backup, as most do even today, so the alarm continues monitoring even if the power is out.

Anyways, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Hope you found it useful.

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