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Are Home Phones Obsolete?

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Do we need a home phone (landline)?

In short the Answer is a resounding, Yes!

It’s no secret the traditional home phone is in decline. Canadians are increasingly opting for cellphone-only households. The prospect of using a landline telephone looks antiquated, more so with each passing year. That being said, while the decline of landline telephone use shows no signs of slowing down, there are still very good and legitimate benefits to have a home phone. That is, if it’s VoIP (voice-over IP) based.

When it comes to traditional telephones in Canada, we’re really talking about two different technologies: landlines and voice-over IP (VoIP). Landline telephones may be reliable, but the technology has become obsolete and too expensive. By contrast, VoIP-based phones offer better value to both households and small businesses that want to maintain a fixed phone system. In addition to providing significant cost savings, VoIP calling offers unlimited calling minutes and a variety of extra features that you just can’t get with landlines, such as mobile phone integration and voicemail to email.

According to the CRTC’s 2018 Communications Monitoring Report, 67% of Canadian households still had a landline subscription as of 2016. That figure may seem surprisingly high, but it represents a year-over-year decline of 7.1%. With that in mind, it’s no wonder the country’s biggest telecom companies have been getting away from landlines in favor of VoIP calling. Just last year, Ottawa cut 80,000 of the city’s landlines at the same time Shared Services Canada signed a $176-million, seven-year deal with Telus Corp. to provide Voice-over-Internet Protocol, instant messaging, and desktop videoconferencing services. The Financial Post notes that Ottawa and other organizations across Canada have been making the switch to VoIP in an effort to “modernize communications infrastructure for the digital era [and] improve reliability” while ditching the maintenance costs of older systems.

The Age of the Digital Phone

So if VoIP-based home phone systems are both cheaper and more feature-rich than landlines, why then are Canadians still overwhelmingly ditching fixed handsets in favor of becoming mobile-only households? Shifting generational lifestyles have certainly played a major role, as renters and young adults are much more likely to own just cell phones thanks to their mobility and comfort with new technologies. However, Canada’s big telecom companies also shoulder much of the blame. As landline users have dropped, Rogers and Bell have continued to bundle landline services with more expensive TV, mobile wireless, and internet packages.

On the other end of the spectrum, big VoIP providers such as Comwave and Primus have given the technology a bad reputation due to their expensive, unreliable service and poor customer service. Gonevoip first shared the following data from the CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report in the 2017 post “The Metamorphosis of Landlines”, but it illustrates how poorly the country’s top telecom companies are viewed by Canadians:

Rank Provider # Of Complaints %
1 Bell Canada 1258 31.8%
2 Rogers Communication 535 13.5%
3 Telus Communications 278 7%
4 Videotron 165 4.2%
5 Xplorenet Internet Services 113 2.9%
6 Comwave 88 2.2%
7 Bell Aliant 73 1.8%
8 Shaw Communications 60 1.5%
9 Primus 49 1.2%
10 Vonage Canada 29 0.7%

As you can see in the chart, Bell, Rogers, and Telus received the overwhelming majority of complaints, which is hardly surprising given their market share in the Canadian telecom industry. However, both Comwave and Primus placed in the top 10 for complaints, which is significant given that both companies are two of the country’s biggest providers of VoIP phone services. This would suggest that Canadians are just as frustrated with landline services as they are with VoIP, but the data paints a much different picture.

The Home Phone has not said its last word yet!

By the end of 2018, there were approximately 16 million landline phones in Canada, with 40% of those using some form of VoIP technology. That amounts to about 6 million VoIP lines and what’s fascinating is that VoIP users appear to be overwhelmingly pleased with the service they are getting. According to the same CRTC Communications Monitoring Report, only 0.2% of the complaints received were for issues from VoIP service providers.

VoIP has a price advantage

With all that said, what are the benefits of actually having a home phone in 2021? It’s been established that VoIP-based phone lines offer legitimate advantages over landlines, especially when it comes to price. But what do those savings actually look like?

Bell and Rogers currently charge between $50-65 a month for their landline services, which may not seem like much but definitely stacks up over the course of a year. Compare that to Gonevoip’s breakdown of 2021’s best VoIP phone services in the Greater Toronto Area. Providers such as VoIP Much Phone Company, VoIPly Home Phone, and VOIPo Home Phone may not have the name recognition of the big telecom companies, though their low monthly fees and wealth of included features are hard to beat. See for yourself:

Service Provider Monthly Cost Key Features
VoIP Much Phone Company $9.45
  • Free Unlimited Canada/US Calling
  • Free E911
  • 30+ Included Features
  • No Setup & No Contracts
  • Chosen Best Home Phone of 2020
Call Centric Phone Pay-as-you-Go
  • No Contract
  • No Setup Fees
  • Many Included Features
  • Unlimited Local Calling
Talkit $4.99
  • No Contract
  • No Cancellation Fees
  • No Setup Fees
  • Unlimited Canada Calling
VoIPly Home Phone $8.95
  • No Contract
  • Free Adapter
  • Free Canada/US Calling
  • Free International Calling
  • Free Number Porting
VOIPO Home Phone $7.70
  • Unlimited Canada & US Calling
  • Free Keep Existing Number
  • Free Adapter
  • Over 40 Features Included
  • Smartphone App

Traditional landline, traditionally high fees

Now let’s look at what Rogers, Bell, Comwave, and Primus are offering. Keep in mind that these providers routinely jack up prices, and tend to receive some of the most passionate customer reviews.

Service Provider Monthly Cost Key Features
Rogers (Deluxe Home Phone) Starting at $58.91
  • Unlimited Local Calling
  • Enhanced Voicemail
  • Call Display
  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Waiting
  • Conference Calling
Bell (Home Phone Choice) $64.95
  • Unlimited Local Calling
  • Choice of up to 8 calling features
Comwave (Canada Plan)
  • $19.95 with 6 months free if you port your existing number on a 3-year contract.
  • $24.95 no contract
  • Unlimited Local Calls
  • Caller ID Block
  • My Account Web Access
  • Free Long Distance Between Comwave Customers
  • $15.95 on a 1-year term
  • $20.95 no contract
  • Unlimited Local Calling
  • Telemarketing GuardTM
  • 5¢/min to Canada and the U.S.
  • 18 Calling Features
  • Unlimited Calling To Other Primus Digital Home Phone Customers

As you can see, big providers such as Bell and Rogers – and even popular providers in the VoIP digital home phone business like Comwave and Primus – are overselling Canadians on their home phone packages. They’ve created a perception that home phones are an overpriced expense that we can all do without, but what many Canadians may not realize is that there are many more digital (or VoIP) based plans out there that are inexpensive and loaded with features.

Residential Phones are resilient

Of course, even for those who do wish to hang onto their home phones, there are some minor drawbacks to opting for a VoIP system over a landline. While VoIP-based lines are generally feature-rich, technically advanced, and way cheaper. Though Digital Phone is dependent on a stable internet connection in order to function properly. In an emergency situation, nothing beats the reliability of a traditional landline, which is why these systems are still popular with the elderly and those living in more remote rural communities. For the rest of Canadians, VoIP phone systems are the obvious best choice available. Combine a VoIP Home Phone with a modern Panasonic DECT phone (check this set, goes for less than $100) and you are connected, better and cheaper then ever before.

For the best Home Phone rates in your area, be sure to read Gonevoip’s Home Phone Providers page for the latest deals and reviews.

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