What Is the Diference Between Digital Phone Service & Land Line Service?

By Steven Hill

What is the difference between a land line phone and a digital service phone?
i Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

You can now get your phone service over a digital network such as those offered through your cable and Internet services. This is called digital phone service. You may have seen some tantalizing offers to switch from your traditional land line service. But what are the differences between these two types of phone service, and is it worth your time and money to switch?

Digital Phone Service Basics

Digital Phone Service is another name given to VoIP services. VoIP means Voice over Internet Protocol. Rather than sending information over your phone line to other phones like traditional land line service, digital phone service sends and receives calls through the Internet. As digital phone service technology improved, it became more viable. For instance, in the early days of the technology, users needed to have the same equipment and software. Now, digital phone service can connect to others no matter their equipment or service type.

Land Line Phone Service Basics

Land lines are the traditional telephone service. They operate through a large network of cable and satellite connections, sending a particular frequency through those networks. You purchase a telephone from a store or provider, choose or are assigned a number and then you plug the phone into a jack on the wall. You speak into the phone, which transmits the signal to the person you call. This receiving phone then decodes these signals into sound waves that you hear as the other person's voice.

Advantages of Digital Phone Service in Comparison to Land Lines

Digital phone service can save you a lot of money over your traditional land line phone. By transmitting over the Internet, rather than a phone line, the old notions of distance are nullified. There are no fees associated with long distance calling. Digital phone service often includes unlimited calling. You can also get all the features of regular phones and more, like caller ID and voicemail. As technology improves, call quality also improves. Many companies now offer digital phone services through their fiber optic and cable networks.

Disadvantages of Digital Phone Service in Comparison to Land Lines

Despite the vast leaps in technology that provide a greater degree of versatility and convenience to digital phone service, it still has several disadvantages. For example, if your Internet or cable service are disrupted, then you cannot use your phone. Unlike traditional land lines, if your power goes out you cannot use your digital phone. Depending on your digital service, you may also experience difficulties making calls to emergency services. Traditional phones are connected to your local emergency services, where digital phones may not be.