What the Future Holds for Landlines vs. VoIP Phones

A landline phone with futuristic transparent design.

What the Future Holds for Landlines vs. VoIP Phones

The share of households that possess a working landline telephone fell from 92.7 percent in 2004 to 43.8 percent in 2017, according to the biannual survey by the CDC. Usage of landlines is decreasing in other parts of the world as well. Online tools such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, smartphones and chat + voice applications replace landlines. Landlines vs. VoIP phones opposition will stay around for a while. VoIP phones will be adopted at accelerating rate due to a number of advantages, though.

What Is Landline?

The landline telephone services are around since the late XIXth century using a solid, twisted pair copper cable that connects home phones through a two or four pin jack. The analog technology is sending a signal through a physical switchboard to connect to another device.

All in all, this is fairly reliable technology that had served consumers well for over a century. Landline phone networks, however, have limitations that other technologies such as VoIP don’t have. A landline can offer functionality such as call waiting, voice mail or more recently caller ID. You can also add a phone number to a list of restricted phones, a blacklist, but these are essentially all the features you get with a landline phone.

What Is VoIP?

VoIP technology is designed specifically for the Internet and takes full advantage of Internet protocols that enable transfer of voice and data over the Internet. You need no dedicated cabling to make calls or transfer data using a VoIP phone. All your communications go via your Internet connection and/or Internet router. You can also use a VoIP softphone i.e. an app that runs on your mobile phone and connects to your VoIP service.

VoIP phones in fact utilize a virtual and entirely digital technology as opposed to the physical private branch exchanges (PBX) in landlines.

Landlines vs. VoIP Phones

Let’s dig deeper into the differences between a traditional landline and an average VoIP service.

We have already mentioned the limitations of a landline where you cannot transfer large amounts of data faster enough to meet the requirements of businesses, for instance. You also cannot re-route your voicemail calls to an email box and cannot automatically forward calls using a landline phone. Virtual assistants is another service provided by VoIP phones and unavailable in landlines.


A chart showing the percentage of US households owning a landline phone. They numbers decreased from over 92% in 2004 to less than 50% in 2017.

Source: Statista


Now, when we have cloud-based VoIP services, you can get rid of most of the hardware associated with a landline. A cloud VoIP service is running on remote servers of the service provider, which also takes care of the hardware and software maintenance.

In fact, most telecoms are gradually shifting to VoIP although the copper wires are still broadly used. Digitization of telephone services is unavoidable, however, so investing in landlines is not a wise move in the long term.


While landlines are extremely stable, their optical counterparts gradually replace copper cables and businesses increasingly opt for VoIP phone services due to a number of business critical factors.

First, VoIP lines are already matching the stability of traditional landlines and many VoIP services provide even better voice quality. Up times for a decent cloud VoIP service are nearing the 100-percent mark. This in turn makes them a reliable replacement for landline business switchboards.

Furthermore, VoIP communications are very affordable, especially in the light of the extra services they offer compared to landlines. According to some estimates, a business can save anywhere from 40 to 80 percent by replacing their landline with a VoIP phone service. You also do not need a costly PBX to have multiple locations covered and use multiple phone numbers.

Overall, cell phones replace landlines in households. For its part, VoIP is becoming a dominant technology in the field of business phone services. Telecoms will keep some landlines as backup solution but the shift to VoIP is a lasting trend overall.