[Zoe Brain is on assignment this week, but don’t worry, she’ll be back!]

As a child, I remember watching Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura with her wireless earpiece.  Today I use a similar peice of “science fiction” in my car so that I can keep both hands on the wheel.  In a generation we’ve gone from rotary dial telephones to mobile phones with wireless headsets.  From landlines to VoIP.  From dollars to pennies per minute to call other continents.  From hurried calls home to videoconferencing with the kids using Skype.

The telephone has become universal across most of the world and in many places wireless services are slowly but steadily displacing Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines.  It’s easy to understand why a young person moving out on their own may simply not feel the need for a land-line.  After all, their friends all just call (or text) their mobile.

I’m wondering what’s next.  Will the land-line survive?  For how long?

According to my tea leaves, we’re one generation away from the death of the residential telephone service because only a few things keep them alive:

  • Mobile phones are too expensive in many areas.  While some US carriers are offering “all you can eat” plans, Canadian carriers aren’t there quite yet;
  • Most residential alarm systems rely on POTS lines; and,
  • Us ‘old’ people who are used to having them.

Over time, all these conditions will change.  I’ll be sure to save a touch-tone wall phone for the grandchildren — because they’ll probably never own one.

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