One pair of copper phone wires. One pair of copper wires lead from a roadside junction box in a trench across Neighbour’s paddock to connect with the landline jack point in our house. One pair of copper phone wires to transmit a lot of information to our multi-generational household. A copper wire connection to bundle data to our fixed line on an unlimited broadband plan to feed data greedy devices.
Through inertia, or by habit, we kept the fixed landline should we ever need to connect to an exchange in an adverse event. You never know. We almost tolerate occasional cross-line local calls and atmospheric interference to reception. Crackling noises disrupt our phone conversations. So last century, I hear you say.
Himself and I are Baby Boomers who grew up in homes that had party phone lines and whose parents dialled the local telephone manual exchange to make a toll call within New Zealand. Mum’s international call to her mother and family in England on Christmas Day had to be booked in advance and was limited to three minutes. The only extraneous noises over the phone then were the sounds of weeping. Houses were linked to overhead phone wires carried on telephone poles across the countryside to connect communities through a system of local phone manual exchanges.
About three years ago, Neighbour’s Tenant got busy with a small digger and scraped a bonfire pit. Snap! Our link to the world stopped. Putting a mobile phone to work, we entered a marathon Q & A session with Teleco Customer Service Operator. Have you checked for a loose connection or dirt in the jack? How many phones are connected? How do you know your phone wire has been broken? If our technician has to enter your property you will have to pay. Do you understand? The technician came out from town with his fault tracking device that lead him from the roadside phone junction box to the bonfire pit. After digging around, he found the broken copper phone wire ends and made the repair. Teleco CSO phoned our landline and proudly announced through the static, “fault fixed”. Grandsons of the house did not care. They were reunited with X-Box.
A year later, we had a similar dialogue with Teleco CSO. Neighbouring Owner returned home. He felled some trees and burned the rubbish on the bonfire pit site scraped by his now-departed tenant. Again, we were disconnected. Again, Teleco repaired the damaged copper wire. The crackling noise on our landline persists.
Last week, Teleco posted a glossy brochure to tell us they have cell towers waiting to deliver superfast wireless rural broadband to our home. We will not need a landline or a phone jack. Our lives will become more enjoyable, transformed by hours streaming data. Talk to us, Teleco says.
We acknowledge it is time for these Kiwi Baby Boomers to make the change. Before signing up to an exchangeless future, we will be the ones who ask the questions. How indestructible are Teleco’s cell towers? Can Teleco guarantee there will be no static during our phone calls?