Saturday, September 02, 2017

Thoughts on my love for landline phones, and on the voice quality of mobile phone calls in India these days

My feelings for landline [and cordless] phones have grown increasingly positive recently. In India, the voice quality on landline phones is much, much more clear than on mobile phones. Mobile to mobile calls are pure horse shit, while mobile-landline calls are merely acceptable. It's the landline-landline calls that stand out as awesome. Crystal clear sound quality, no disturbance, no weird hisses or noises. You're actually able to peacefully talk and conduct business and convey your thoughts to the other side properly and calmly on a landline-landline call. On mobile-mobile calls, half of your brain is wasted deciphering - through moments of noise, hisses, silence and disturbances - what the other party is trying to say, and this subconsciously confuses your brain and makes it busy and makes you irritated and doesn't allow you to think properly, leading to reduced quality of thoughts and poorer conversations [and thus poorer outcomes]. So many times you have to say "hello, hello, hello" to signal to the other party that you can't hear them. It's sort of torture. This isn't how mobile phone calls are supposed to be. They keep marketing 3G, 4G, etc., but what about the most thing - voice calls?

That's why lately I've started loving landline and cordless phones. No, we aren't ready for a mobile-only world. Landline phones are essential and do things that you just can't currently do on mobile phones - at least not here in India. Fierce competition in the mobile telecom industry and the resultant financial pressure has meant that call quality has taken a nosedive, calls drops have become commonplace, and signal strength has suffered greatly. What's the use of such competition? Even if you're willing to pay 1.25 times the bill, you can't buy guaranteed high-quality voice calls.

Landline phones have another advantage. Plausible deniability. If it's ringing, you don't necessarily have to pick it up [unlike mobile phones which are assumed to be near you]. You can call back later when convenient.

One more benefit of landline phones, which I discovered recently, is that the mobile company "Free" in France offers a cheap monthly prepaid plan to French customers which includes unlimited voice calls free to only landline phones in 80 countries. And guess what, the audio quality of these mobile-to-landline calls is superb. As good as domestic landline-to-landline calls in India. This is how mobile calls are supposed to be. Not the cow shit that mobile calls are currently in India.

Yet another benefit of landline phones is something I discovered recently during the Ram Rahim fiasco. The Punjab government disabled SMS and mobile Internet data services on all mobile phones, but broadband Internet continued to be available uninterrupted via wired connections. Those whose only source of Internet was mobile phones took a hit.

Further, over the last few months, the cellular signal of Airtel has went down multiple times. During such times, it was either landline phones that came to the rescue, or your secondary mobile phone powered by a different mobile service provider. Redundancy, that is. The service of landline phones, on the other hand, hasn't gone down in at least the last several years.

And who can deny that cordless/landline phones look far more royal, elegant, and professional? And who can deny that cordless/landline phones are more comfortable to hold, especially for long calls? And who can deny that [being geographically immovable and implying the existence of a physical workplace], a landline number feels more "stable" and "corporatish" than a cell number?



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