An old-fashioned analogue telephone on a copper line won't do Instagram. But it does have one key advantage: it doesn't need electricity, so works fine through a power-cut (unless it's a cordless phone).
But copper lines are soon to be a thing of the past. Many households are going mobile phone-only.
And, soon - as Chorus and its peers start ripping out or switching off copper lines from the start of 2022 - the remainder will use digital phones connected to fibre or fixed wireless connections that do require power.
The Commerce Commission is charged with coming up with a solution for 111 calls during power cuts once new telecommunications legislation comes into effect in January 2022, and it's asking for ideas and feedback on its draft code now, via its website.
The regulator gives the real-life case study of Leanne, who lives with her pensioner husband two-hours' drive south of Christchurch. His health is not good. His lungs are scarred from years of working with chemicals. The dexterity in his hands and fingers has gone and he cannot use a mobile phone. Mobile coverage at their home is poor and they rely on a home phone line. There are often power cuts in the area. With new home phone technologies and no mobile coverage, the couple may be unable to call 111 from their home during a power cut.
"I already pay for a landline. It's not cheap. A mobile phone won't work here. Bad reception. There is other technology on offer but it's $800 just to get an aerial. We're living on one pension right now so we can't afford that," Leanne said.
Under the draft 111 contact code Leanne's provider would let her know that her home phone on a new technology would not work in a power cut.
As she does not have another way to contact 111, she would need to apply to her provider for extra support under the Code. They would then work with her to find a solution that would enable her or her husband to make emergency calls in a power cut.
Submissions must be made by April 23.
POSTSCRIPT: In an emergency, should I phone 111 or 112?
After a recent debate in the geek community over whether it's best to call 111 or 112 from your cellphone in any emergency, Police posted a notice encouraging people to dial 111.
112 is an international emergency number that works in almost every country, including NZ (where a 112 will be automatically rerouted to 111).
It's not correct that 112 will give you an inside edge getting through. When you dial 111 on your mobile, your phone will also try to reach any available network (that is, if you're a Vodafone customer, it will also try to reach a Spark or 2degrees tower if necessary).
Still, 112 is handy to remember when your travelling, since it works everywhere, and emergency numbers differ (the US is 911 and Australia 000, for example).
In an emergency, it can be better to send a txt than attempt a voice call. A txt is easier for any mobile network to handle, and if there's overloading, Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees' systems will all automatically keep trying to deliver a txt until things clear up.
One final point: in Australia, there's an additional emergency number, 106, which the hearing or speech-impaired can text in an emergency.
Here, you can text 111, but only if you've registered your number, which brings to mind the nightmare scenario of trying to register as an emergency is happening. Surely we can do better than that?