An increasing number of U.S. consumers are turning to "cutting the copper" when it comes to home telephone service, relying instead on their cell phones or Voice over IP (VoIP) service that uses their home's high-speed Internet connections. However, such systems can stop working during an emergency such as a power blackout, hurricane or other natural disaster.
Unlike traditional copper-wire based telephone services, VoIP and mobile phone services are highly dependent on electricity—and Internet connections—to work. (Read: Surprise! Your high-tech home phone system could go dead in an emergency.) If you've already ditched your old landline for mobile phones or VoIP telephone service as part of your home's bundled TV and Internet services, consider these tips to ensure you'll have a working home phone during emergencies:
Know your system. Find out which kind of landline phone service you have and how it functions during a power outage, if at all.
Keep extra batteries on hand. They can extend the amount of time the backup system powers your phones. In a pinch, you may also be able to power the phone system for a brief time using an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Check with your carrier for more information.
Subscribe to copper phone service. Consider keeping (or returning to) copper service, if it’s available. If you’ve switched to a fiber-based VoIP service with a telephone company ask if there are any difficulties in adding plain-old telephone service back. Sometimes companies, for example, remove the copper line to your home.
Keep a corded phone. Most cordless phones will not work if the power is out, even if the phone line is active. Make sure the phone you’re buying doesn't need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
Consider a generator. If you have a backup generator that provides power to only some appliances, make sure one of them is your VoIP or fiber phone system. Run an extension cord from the generator to your modem or network interface. A whole-house generator is even better than a portable one but considerably more expensive.
For more tips, read the How to stay in touch section of Surprise! Your high-tech home phone system could go dead in an emergency. Aslo check out more tips from the FCC blog, How to Communicate Before, During and After a Major Disaster.