Who uses your landline?
If your landline is used by a number of people then going completely cellular might not be the best idea since others will either need to get their own cellular line or borrow your cell phone to make calls. For families this definitely would be more expensive with everyone having their own cell phone. For one or two people in a residence, dropping the landline would make more sense, especially if both people are already paying a monthly charge for a cell phone plus for the landline.
What is your landline used for at present?
If you are just using your landline for phone calls then switching to a cellular residential line seems to make sense, but if that landline is used for something else then going completely cellular might not be in your favour. In particular, this relates to those of you that receive your high speed internet services via an ADSL line from your local landline provider (e.g., Telus, Bell). If you plan to continue using an ADSL line but drop your landline telephone then you may need to either switch over to a different internet provider (such as a cable internet provider) or pay additional charges on your ADSL line since your landline phone provider is no longer supplying your local telephone line.
Do you have any other special features on your landline?
In addition to ADSL internet services mentioned above, some other special services might include a second phone line for a fax machine, a house alarm monitor, or something else that uses your landline. If you subscribe to a digital satellite TV service, note that any service updates for your digital cable service are done via your landline as well and you won't be able to update your service without access to a landline. None of these features will be available if you decide to go completely cellular at this time.
How much long distance do you use?
The beauty of landline service is that you can choose your own long distance provider. With cellular phones your long distance provider is the same as your cell phone service provider and long distance rates are never as cheap as with landline long distance providers. On a typical cell phone you might pay $0.10-$0.35/min for a call within Canada or to the US, but make that same call on your landline and you'll likely pay only $0.03-$0.10/min. Cellular service provider companies often use their higher long distance rates to offset operational costs, which is understandable since this is what landline providers did as well before deregulation of landline long distance a few years back.
If you don't make a lot of long distance calls then going completely cellular might be an option, but if you regularly make long distance calls then you might pay more on your cellular phone bill than keeping your landline and landline long distance provider.
I should note here than some people use a third-party long distance provider for their cellular phone, but unlike landlines you need to dial an access number to use their long distance services and although rates are less than using the cellular provider's long distance service, it is never cheaper than landline long distance.
Cellular coverage in residential areas
Cell phones are not used as frequently in residential areas as on the road, downtown, or in shopping malls. Think about where you use your cell phone and likely you'll realize that only a small fraction of typical calls are made or received while you are at home.
The residential cellular coverage test
If you still are considering dropping the landline and go completely cellular then make sure to do the residential cellular coverage test.
Using a cell phone with a provider that is offering residential cellular services, make a call to someone and talk to them while walking around your house. Make sure to go EVERYWHERE, including the basement, hallways, outside, the garage, etc and listen to the voice quality and any crackling or distortion effects. Cellular phones are subject to wireless interference from a number of man-made objects including cement walls, metal doors and electrical interference (TV's, computers, washing machines, vacuums, etc). Conduct this test at a few different times of day as network load may also weaken the signal in certain areas (especially in late afternoon when there is typically more demand on the network).
Natural interferences may also play an important part of your residential coverage test. The two biggest causes of signal degradation are foliage and rain. If your residence is surrounded by lots of trees then you might have poor reception using a cellular phone at home on a regular basis. Your reception might be perfect during winter months but come summer you might have very poor signal. If possible, your residential cellular coverage test would be conducted during the height of summer.
If you live in an area that receives a good deal of rain or snow then residential cellular coverage might be questionable as well. Like tree leaves, rain and falling snow absorb cellular signals and will degrade coverage. Under ideal situations you should therefore conduct your residential cellular coverage test during the late afternoon on a rainy day in mid-summer while running as many electrical devices as possible.
If you have a dual frequency handset and your provider offers services on different frequencies then make sure to do the residential cellular coverage test on both frequencies if you can. Some phones allow you to select the frequency manually, but for most the selection is automatic. Phones that use the 800/850 MHz frequency will fare marginally better in poorer coverage areas than phones using the 1900 MHz frequency due to the higher absorption rate of the higher frequency. If you cannot set the frequency on your dual frequency phone manually then find the poorest coverage location in your residence or parking garage and turn your phone on. It should lock onto the lower frequency and you'll be able to conduct your tests using the lower frequency. For Canadian readers in major urban centres this will apply to Rogers tdMA (800/1900 MHz), Rogers GSM (850/1900 MHz) and Telus Mobility CDMA in BC, AB (800/1900 MHz).
If you are satisfied with the residential coverage test
If everything checks out then likely you are ready to go completely cellular and drop the landline. Here's just a few last points to ponder over:
Who offers residential cellular services?
If you have recently dropped your landline and have gone completely cellular then please drop me a note and let me know what positive and negative experiences you have had. Alternatively, post your questions or stories on GeckoBeachForums.com.