What's your landline plan?

Mark Lyndersay -
Mark Lyndersay -



IN A NOTE to customers in May, Pernel Roberts, TSTT's GM for traditional services, encouraged customers to sign up for the company's replacement for its fixed-line phone service, WTTX 5G, offering a month of free service and free local calls to other TSTT customers.

In that letter, Roberts warned of the sunset of the copper wire lines on September 30.

In responses to questions on the matter in July (https://j.mp/3heUnwx), CEO Lisa Agard noted that the company had migrated 70,000 residential/single-line business customers from the copper network but doubted that the completion date for the project, October 2021, was attainable under covid19 pandemic restrictions.

"We are acutely aware that the copper network continues to age, switching equipment is unsupported by suppliers, and our customers on the copper network require more broadband services," Agard explained then.

"In light of this, we remain steadfast in our resolve to complete the project."

The company remains committed to that statement, it said this week.

Given the length of time it's taken the company to get to even 70,000 customers, a fraction of those listed in its notoriously bulky phone book, existing landline customers may have a longer runway before they must make a final decision.

But the reality is that TSTT's copper network is ageing badly. It's populated with copper cables that are vulnerable to theft and supported by network infrastructure that's increasingly obsolete or expensive to replace or repair.

A landline phone owner should make a plan for communications continuity beyond the copper wire era.

TSTT isn't the only option for a cabled connection for phone calls. Both Flow and Digicel offer services that run over Voice over IP (VoIP) protocols that will allow you to plug in your existing telephone and continue to receive and make calls.

Flow charges $14.50 to add it to an existing internet service and charges $99 for a 600-minute plan. Digicel's $99 plan delivers 500 minutes.

Unfortunately, because of a procedural contretemps on fixed number portability (https://j.mp/3hb8zq3), it's unlikely that you will be able to keep your current phone number on another service for the foreseeable future.

It's also worth considering whether you need a wired phone connection at all. Dramatic improvements in local mobile networks, supported by the significant value of powerful smartphone devices, make the idea of a dumb phone attached to something with a wire seem startlingly retrograde.

After putting my home landline number into maintenance mode ($34.88), while awaiting a trial of the new WTTX system, I ended the service last month.

It's questionable whether it's a service that's really lost. Alternative communications tools make the idea of cabled voice services increasingly irrelevant.

Other traditional voice-call features are equally creaky. Who leaves voice messages anymore? Who listens to them?

These changes have been creeping up on us for a long time and for a new generation, they are as odd and dated as a vinyl LP or a Walkman.

Landline phones never accepted text messages (services in the metropoles turn them into speech for traditonalists) but an SMS text message is impossibly dotish. No images. No clickable phone number. To thanks.

A telephone cable running down a wall has already joined them.

Someday you will struggle to explain to a generation that sheds phone numbers like old socks that all that effort was done just to speak with someone. No text, no video, no links, just talk.

We are living in an era of next-generation communications technologies spread across a range of apps and services.

What's your plan for personal communication going to be?

Mark Lyndersay is the editor of technewstt.com. An expanded version of this column can be found there


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