Cutting the wire

cutting the wire

Gone wireless

For the first time in 35 years, I do not have a wired telephone in my house.

For several years now, I've been a two-phone person: wired phone at home plus a cell phone.That also meant getting two phone bills every month, and for someone who uses the telephone as little as I do, that seemed excessive. For a long time I felt I needed the wired line for internet access, but since I now get my internet through my cable TV company, I finally decided to give up the wireline and just use my cell phone as my primary — only — phone.

That was scary. My experience with cell phones has not been great. OK, it has been awful! I've previously had at least four different cell phones and found all of them wanting. So giving up my wired phone was an act of courage or insanity, you decide.

My old cell phone is from AT&T, which is merging with Cingular. This held some promise: both AT&T and Cingular have moved to GSM technology, which is also used in Europe and Asia. Getting with the rest of the world makes sense. Also, Cingular lets you roll unused minutes over, which is a good thing. But because they are just building out their GSM networks, there are lots of no-coverage areas, especially in the wide-open spaces of the west; coverage is spotty.

Verizon Wireless gets highest marks from the Consumer Reports survey for customer satisfaction (although being highest, doesn't mean superior). Verizon uses CDMA technology and has much better coverage. I decided to go with Verizon, even though I had used it once several years ago and found it lousy.

I signed up for Verizon Wireless service to use my current phone number and ordered my new phone. It arrived the very next day. The transfer of my number from my wired line to my cell phone was actually quite smooth. I could immediately make calls out on the new cell phone, but incoming calls still rang on my home phone for about three days (including a weekend). I don't know if transferring from Verizon to Verizon Wireless made it any easier and smoother or not, since I have nothing to compare with.

Bad by design. Then the rude awakenings with my new phone (LG VX4400B) began.

The first gotcha involved programming names and phone numbers into the phone. I began putting in name and number pairs, carefully selecting the proper type for the phone number: home, home2, mobile, work, work2, etc. But when I looked at the directory list, I couldn't tell which number was which. So, I erased them all and put them in again, this time differentiating them with "(H)" "(W)" or "(M)" after the name. Then I discovered that this phone can associate more than one phone number with a single name (hence the labels!), so I did it all over again.

The second gotcha involved hearing phone calls. I could hardly hear the first person I called, and I was nearly sick to my stomach — Call quality is going to be terrible and I've given up my wired line and it will cost me an arm and a leg to get connected anew.

Then I figured out how to change the volume in the earpiece from "low" (the default setting) to "high." I made another call and could hear perfectly, for about 5 seconds. That's when I discovered that the buttons that can control volume during a call are right there on the side where my thumb wants to be while holding the phone, which cycles the volume from high to low to medium to high....

LG VX4400B LG VX4400B
close up view Thumb and volume buttons

The third gotcha came when I realized that without a wired line I could no longer send or receive faxes on my computer. This is not a big deal, but it has been convenient at times. Oh well.

The fourth gotcha has come from my now-former wired phone provider. I have been inundated with telemarketing calls from Verizon wanting to offer me tremendous deals on new phone service! This morning, two calls came with 10 minutes of each other. Enough is enough!

Now listen up! This is the second call from Verizon in the last ten minutes. This number is on the do-not-call list. If I get another call from Verizon I will file a formal complaint. Can you hear me now?