Even with the popularity of mobile phones and cheap unlimited phone plans these days, there is still a significant market for cordless phones and home calling. Often, internet providers still like to charge extra for line rental – $20 or more in some cases – with their phone plans, so why not try to make use of the extra cost? This is especially the case for ADSL plans, but NBN plans may also be bundled with an NBN phone plan, which is a similar type of deal. Cordless phones are available from about $30, so let’s review what’s on offer from the top brands – Uniden, Oricom, Panasonic and Telstra.
Cordless phones are pretty cheap, but not all brands are made equal. Uniden, Oricom, Panasonic and Telstra all seem to be the top cordless handset brands in Australia.
Uniden produces a fairly large range of more than 30 cordless phones, starting at around $40 for a single handset. There is even a hearing-impaired handset (E353) for about $80 or so, that features extra loud audio controls as well as quick emergency dial buttons. Uniden also produces a waterproof handset (8305WP) for about $90 that would be an ideal fit for the garage or next to the sink while washing up so you don’t have to worry about water and spills.
Uniden’s most expensive kit includes three phones, including one ‘home base’ dock (XDECT). It costs around $200, and has a feature where you can see dialled and received calls from both the handset and your mobile phone. It also features a phonebook capacity of 6000 – how many people do you know?! Uniden is perhaps one of the biggest cordless phone companies, and its range is large enough to suit most budgets and household needs, from the one-phone family, to the ‘mothership’ docking station with multiple handsets.
Oricom claims to be the world leader of ‘phone tech’. While landline phones may be a bit of an ageing technology, Oricom still makes a fairly concise range of cordless phones, start from about the $60 mark. The ‘M800-1’ seems to be the cheapest mobile, and features a basic docking station with features such as caller ID, 10 ring tones, up to 10 hours of talk time, hearing impairment clarity and quick-dialling of 100 numbers. If you’re just after a cheap handset, this could be the one.
Alternatively, there are dearer models, such as the ‘PRO910-2’, which features a corded handset with an answering machine, plus two cordless phones, which boast amplified sound for those hard of hearing. This model costs a little over $300. Oricom also produces a range of baby monitors.
If you’re after a cheap cordless phone to satisfy your home phone needs, Panasonic may provide the answer. It produces a large range of cordless phones, starting from just $30 with the KX-TGB110ALB model… say that 10 times quickly. Seeing as it costs around $30, you can expect fairly basic functionality with a 1.4-inch LCD with a narrow base station for discreet storage and the ability to fit in a tight space.
None of Panasonic’s cordless phones are priced at more than $300, and its most expensive model (KX-TG8033ALB) costs around $230. For this price you get three cordless phones plus a ‘Power Failure Talk System’, which enables the phones to even work during a blackout. This would be especially handy for checking in with loved ones in a storm or adverse weather… or if you live in South Australia. It also features a DECT repeater, which can double the transmission range for peace of mind if working out in the yard. Panasonic is an electronics giant known for making premium household appliances, but its cordless phones start at a nice price.
Telstra is Australia’s largest telco and claims to be the “network without equal”. As such, it produces a range of cordless phones to enable you to experience said network. There are two ways you can go about acquiring a Telstra handset – either buy outright, or pay a small fee per month over 24 months. For example, the cheapest phone is the ‘503’, which costs just $48 outright, or $2 a month over 24 months. Telstra also produces a range of funky-looking handsets, named the ‘Colombo Neue’ and this handset is exclusive to Telstra. The telco also offers a range of rebranded Motorola handsets.
Many of Telstra’s cordless phones have a one-touch ‘Nuisance Call’ blocking feature, and the most expensive models are still under $200. Seeing as Telstra is a telco, it also produces a range of home phone plans, which may also be bundled in with an internet plan. So let’s see what home phone plans are on offer, including internet bundles.
A number of internet service providers also offer home phone plans, either by themselves or as part of an internet bundle. While standalone home phone plans may look good, chances are you could probably find better value if you bundle it. It’s also worth seeing if your current provider offers a home phone package, which can cost as little as $10 extra per month. Providers to watch out for are:
Cordless phones and home phone plans may seem like a bit of a redundant product or service these days, especially with the advent of cheap unlimited mobile plans. However, there is still a significant market for them out there. Elderly people in particular may still get great benefit from the old landline telephone, where some are still operational even in blackouts.
However, where many people put a foot wrong is not bundling an internet service in with their home phone plan. While this is understandable if you don’t have an internet connection, you are probably paying too much by keeping internet + phone separate. In fact, with some providers you can even save money by just buying an internet plan with home phone calls included. Prices for internet and a home phone service start from as little as around $40, with big data inclusions and international call packs coming as standard for a lot of plans in the $70-$100 a month range. When home phone plans by themselves can cost around $80, you probably now know what sounds like a better deal.
Either way, cordless phones are the easy bit, especially when they cost as little as $30 – finding a suitable home phone and internet bundle can be a bit harder.
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The fixed line telephone has been with us for over one hundred years, and while its function has remained basically the same, its form has changed dramatically. From bulky wall-mounted devices with separate speakers and microphones, to the classic blocky plastic wedge, to sleek cordless units, the landline has been through many redesigns.
Interestingly, despite being smaller and easier to use than ever, ownership and use of landline phones are on decline throughout Australia. In 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority found that only 75% of the population owned a landline, down from 88% in 2009. This is a decline of 13%, exactly the same proportion as the growth in Australians who only use a mobile phone, up from 12% in 2009 to 25% in 2013. Meanwhile, only 7% of people now only have access to a landline.
Canstar Blue’s latest survey of phone usage puts the number of Australians owning a landline at an even lesser proportion, with just 64% of the 1,736 survey respondents having a landline in their home. It is the younger generations driving this trend, with only one-third of Gen Ys (35%) having a landline in their home, compared to more than three-quarters (77%) of Boomers surveyed. Gen X were squarely on the fence, with exactly 50% of survey respondents having a landline in their home.
As mentioned above, this dramatic decrease in the use of landlines, known as ‘cord-cutting’ has been overwhelmingly driven by younger Australians, mostly between the ages of 18 to 34. Conversely, the diminishing numbers of people who only use a landline are predominantly over 65 years old, with no real differences between males and females. If trends continue, it’s not impossible to imagine a time when no one uses a fixed line phone for personal reasons, though that is still a fair way off.
As the uptake and use of mobile phones increases, and the ownership of landlines decreases, it will become increasingly important for older Australians to be smart-phone savvy, particularly for keeping in touch with children and grandchildren. Even email is passé for Gen Zs – let alone picking up a handset! Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr – keeping in touch with the lives of grandchildren is likely to be more social media than social.