Long-distance calls don't cost extra when Theresa Scheulke makes them from her cell phone.

That's the reason she ditched her landline and opted to use her cell as her primary means of phone communication.

Her children live out of the state, except for one, who lives in York, which is a long-distance call from her home in Mount Wolf.

"It didn't make sense for us to keep the landline and pay all these phones bills," said Scheulke, who estimated she saved about $50 per month by making the change.

As of December, 255.4 million people in the country subscribed to wireless plans using about 2.1 trillion minutes of air time, and more and more people are dropping landlines altogether, according to data from CTIA, the International Association for Wireless Telecommunications.

Close to 16 percent of all households in the country were completely wireless at the end of 2007. That's up from 8.4 percent in 2005, according to CTIA.

Kim Quigley of York gave up her landline more than five years ago.

"It was a pretty easy choice," she said. "I didn't need to use the phone at home as soon as cell service started to become so common.

"(The landline) just seemed totally useless and outdated."

Andrew and Cori Beaverson cut the cord six years ago.

The Lewisberry residents didn't want to pay bills for the landline when they relied so heavily on their cell phones.

Not the right fit for everyone

Going wireless requires some thought, said Ellen Webner, a spokeswoman for AT&T.


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"If you're considering going wireless, coverage is first and foremost," Webner said.

She recommends talking to friends and neighbors to see how they like their service.

East Manchester Township resident Audrey LeRew said she keeps her landline because cell phone reception is finicky at her house.

"You have to be in certain parts," she said.

Cost is a deciding factor for many people when dropping traditional phone service, and Webner said customers should compare prices between landline services and cell services.

"These days, everyone is trying to save money," she said.

In order to end up with a minimal bill, Chris Leftridge, the manager of the Verizon Wireless store in the York Galleria, said customers should think about what they need in a phone.

It's important the plan meets those needs, he said, or else they end up with extra charges at the end of the month for using too many minutes or text messages.

One of the more commons arguments for keeping the landline is dialing 911 during an emergency.

However, a few years ago, all cell phones were programmed to link to GPS when they dialed 911, Leftridge said.

Even if the person couldn't talk or the call dropped, the GPS automatically tracks that connection, he said.

Still for some people, such as LeRew, landlines fit their lifestyle.

"With landlines you don't have to worry about static and noisy receptions," LeRew said. "You don't have to worry about low battery and recharging."

Maria Pender of Windsor Township said she would like to drop her landline, but her kids would use too many minutes if she did.

Running contrary to the trend, Comcast, which provides telephone service in the county, has seen growth in the three years since it launched its phone service, said spokesman Gabe Weissman.

"One in three new customers is taking the Triple Play package with high-speed Internet, digital television and phone service," Weissman said.

He credited the bundled package as part of the reason the service had grown even though people are relying more on cell phones.

The reason for being landline-free boils down to a smart vs. dumb decision for one West Manchester Township resident.

"There are smart phones and dumb phones," said John Ward, who dropped his landline in 1999.

Ward considers a dumb phone anything that only lets him talk. Smart phones not only let him talk, but let him do everything his computer lets him do.

He carries his cell with him everywhere and uses it to check e-mail, to watch YouTube and to make phone calls.

He sees no point in paying for a phone that doesn't offer all the features he needs.

"Landlines are dumb phones," Ward said.

jmilcetich@ydr.com; 771-2029

Coverage

Most of the major cell phone companies provide a map of their coverage areas on their Web sites where you can enter an address and find the level of coverage in that area.

For Verizon Wireless: verizonwireless.com
For AT&T: wireless.att.com/coverageviewer
For Sprint: coverage.sprint.com

Contact us

The business staff is looking for people who would be interested in serving on a reader panel to test a few different cell phones. If you are interested and would like to be considered for the panel, e-mail staff writer Jessica Milcetich at jmilcetich@ydr.com. Include your name, age, municipality, occupation and why you would like to participate.

Online

Have you dropped your landline in exchange for cell phone service? See what other people have to say about this topic on The Exchange.

Quick tip on cell phone etiquette

It's pretty obvious that it's rude to talk on your cell phone, or even have it ring, in the movie theater, but it can be just as disruptive to others if you text in the theater because of the light shining from your phone.

Back to school

Many of the local school districts have specific policies about cell phone use on school property and at school-sanctioned events. In most cases, cell phone use is only permitted if a student has special permission for a medical reason. Other exceptions sometimes include students who are volunteer firefighters or part of an ambulance corp.

If you have questions, most school districts post their policies online. Visit the Education section of inyork.com/ydr to find links to your school district.

Cost of different plans

Cell phone plans vary in cost depending on the service and features you have. Through Verizon Wireless for example, the most basic individual plan costs $39.99 per month for 450 minutes, while the premium plan, with unlimited minutes and texting, navigation and other features, costs $139.99 per month. AT&T offers similar plans with minutes, and text messaging and other features can be added for an additional monthly fee. At Sprint, the monthly bill is based on the number of minutes and text messages or other features you need.

If you're not looking to sign a yearly contract, some stores, such as Wal-Mart, carry prepaid cell phones where you purchase more minutes as you need them. These phones cost $20 or more depending on the model and the cost of minutes varies depending on the provider.

Take our online poll

Have you given up your landline? Take our online poll.

On the Business Blog

The business editor has been without her landline for three years now.