Why can't I text from my landline?

Okay, I know it’s an old phone, but what if I replaced it with a ‘texting capable’ phone?

Why don’t they make such a phone? Or do land lines just, flat out, not text? Why?

(I am not in IT, nor am I tech savy, please keep it simple, I beg you! I also don’t have a cell phone, though I sometimes text on my hubby’s!)

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that residential land line phones (we’re not talking about office phone systems here) don’t have that capability and since they don’t have the ability the telcos never built the infrastructure to handle it…since they never built the infrastructure, the phone makers didn’t build the phones.

And since we have emails and cell phones, I don’t see it happening any time soon.

My understanding is that every few seconds your cell phone pings a nearby cell tower to give your provider it’s location. In this ping there’s a certain amount of empty unused space and at some point, cell providers realized they could use this space for something and thus texting was born. Again, my understanding (and I could be wrong) is that it cost them very little to set this up as the infrastructure already existed, the hardware was in place, the customers we’re already there, they just had to program some things on the back end provide customers with new phones which they were, I assume, all to willing to buy.

I’d be surprised if the telcos would ever even break even on an endevour like this. The few people that have land lines AND don’t have cell phones AND want to text probably are probably too low to make it worthwhile.

deaf people use TTD or TTY as a communication method over the plain old telephone system.

these may have had a display that would scroll maybe 20 characters, in later time it would be a multiline display.

often these would be a device that you placed the handset into. now could be a plugin device.

these were live 2 way communication devices.

you could have a device auto answer the phone and collect all incoming and store it.

There’s no technological reason why landline phones couldn’t handle text, but it would require a massive change in the equipment from end-to-end. It could be done over a few years, but unless there is a demand for it or it can be built into upgrades, it won’t happen. The increasing use of cellphones diminishes the need for landlines anyway, especially ones with fancy features that don’t yet exist.

On a somewhat related note, why on a basic $40 cell plan can I talk all weekend for free but have to spend $0.05 to send a text message?

Doesn’t transmitting a text message consume far less bandwidth than a short snippet of voice?

Is there any technical reason text messages are (seemingly, to me) so relatively expensive, or is it strictly a business/supply and demand/“what the market will bear” situation?

It would be like seeing if we could put a Chevy V6 engine in a horse’s ass to make him run faster so that a buggy could keep up with highway speeds. We already have an advanced technology that allows such a thing. No need to retrofit an antiquated technology for something that so few people would use. The investment wouldn’t pay off.

You got it. Why do you think phone companies charged a few dollars per month for decades if you wanted to use DTMF dialing? It was far more efficient for them and the infrastructure was already in place and paid for. They charged more because they could.

Because that’s what people will pay.

They also know that most people that send/receive more then about 200 texts per month will make the jump to unlimited texts for $15 or $20 per month. But really, it comes down to charging what the market will bear.

Joey’s explanation nailed it.

Your landline has no need to tell the telephone company where it is (Joey’s ‘ping’ to the cell tower). So, no ping, no free space for a message. Thus, adding texting to a landline would require a big change and a lot of money, not just a new phone.

The dirty little secret of text messaging was that once the cell companies got you to buy a new phone, sending a text message was free for them (ping was already there) but they could charge you for it - almost pure profit!

You can text with Google voice for free online. Dat is wat I do cuz I don’t make enough money to pay for a cell and landline in addition to all my other bills. Money don’t grow out of the ground know what I’m saying. Try that out though to save money brother

I only text via landline, as it’s cheaper and considerably easier to type (on the computer). Of course, it’s not really texting by landline, but the effect is the same.

I thought it’s because landlines were analog, so couldn’t send extra data. Then again, there IS a simple form of texting on landlines - caller ID sends the caller’s number, I think as a code between the first 2 rings of your phone.

And you thought mechanics didn’t love lube jobs enough already.

My carrier allows you to choose your deal. I’m on the txt saver one.

Not necessarily; with a modem it’s entirely possible to send data over telephone lines (Dialup and ADSL both illustrate this as well).

It’s not a technical problem, but a economic and cultural one.

As others mentioned, telcos choose whether to allow this functionality to work. Of course everyone would need to change their actual phone for display etc.

I worked for one company in Australia that were looking into it (in Europe it is more common) and they chose to do mobile text to speech messages as it meant the population did not have to get new phones. The project to get text to text on land lines died a nasty death because there wasn’t the support for it (profits from new hardware and revenues from texts were not high enough, even though the tech requirement was minimal).

Anyone know how often a cell phone will ‘ping’ the tower, someone said every few seconds, I thought it was in minutes.

This is how i understand how it works. The phone pings the tower basically saying I’m here and I’m listening for you to tell me if a call is coming it. The tower responds listen to frequency xxxx, and the phone does passively. The tower announces on frequency xxxx to all the phones listening. If a phone hears its ‘name’ called it will also be given a frequency for the call (actually 2 frequencies talk/listen) and will go to that to complete the call. In the above the carriers left a empty space in that listening frequency which they wanted for potential future use. That reserved empty space is what is used for txting. So this is why txting is so fast, it uses the same method as to get your phone to ring, that being passively listening.

Txting was a form of mobile email (actually you can usually txt to email and email to txt), it was smaller and less functional but that made it great for a cell phone but not really needed for landlines. Landlines used computers with modems to accomplish essentially the same thing as txting, so there was no pressing need for landline txting.

Txting,while still tied to email, really has taken on a life of it’s own, but the land line phone is dieing out, plus broadband internet, which is expanding, can handle txting, so there is no pressing need to add this function to landlines.

Props for the street cred, bro…:rolleyes:

They can send data, as evidenced by your example and dial-up Internet. But without the receiver knowing how to interpret it, sending it would be useless. Like sending a fax with no fax receiver at the other end.

Caller ID works because the receiving end knows how to interpret the data, and when to expect it (after the first ring only).

And in case you are wondering why we can’t text from a landline to a cellphone, it’s somewhat the same interpretation problem. The cellphone would have to know how to decode the analog data because it’s in a different format than standard cellphone digital data.

Not impossible or even difficult technologically, but to be practical there would have to be many equipment changes and the demand would have to come from somewhere – either a telco wanting to sell servces or the customers wanting the functionality. I don’t see either in the short term.

Thank you all for your explanations, and for keeping it simple.

I figured there was a reason it wouldn’t work beyond the phone not being capable. I failed to consider that, with a cell phone in every household, there is effectively no demand.

As I said, I don’t have a cell, occasionally texting from my hubby’s. But when he’s out obviously I can’t. When I look at my phone, it’s got the right buttons, it seems, and it’s a phone…well, you can see why I was curious.

Thanks again, for clearing up, what must surely seem, a very silly question!