Review: Western Electric 302 Telephone
Written by Dane Jasper
May 3, 2011 | 2 min read
One of the advantages of Sonic.net’s Fusion Broadband+Phone service is that it’s “POTS”; plain old telephone service. This means that all of the devices that you may have used for years on your voice telephone line should still work.
To illustrate this, I picked up a very special Western Electric 302 telephone, built in 1941, and connected it to my Fusion service at home. The 302 is associated with I Love Lucy, and if you look closely at the video, you may catch this phone’s particular connection to Lucile Ball.
Fusion delivers the best of both worlds: traditional DC line-powered voice service, with it’s inherent reliability and e911 capabilities, alongside modern features such as unlimited nationwide calling for home users, modern voicemail with “unified inbox” (voicemail in your email, as well as via phone) and modern voicemail notifications like SMS text and Twitter.
Building on this solid voice platform, we add uncapped and unlimited full-speed broadband, a killer combination! Please help us spread the word!
As for the WE 302 – it’s got great sound quality, a bit fuller and deep than modern phones. The heft is astounding. The metal base and hefty guts in this version mean you would not want to drop the set on your foot. The bakelite handset is also heavy. It has a triangular profile, so you cannot rest it on your shoulder, the classic “holding a phone with your head” pose that’s possible with the more modern WE 500. That’s probably for the best, this means you really cannot multi-task, so it’s a perfect “standing in the entryway talking on the phone” device. When the party on the other end is using the WE 302, you know they’re not multitasking and ignoring you!
The ringer is loud, as you can hear in the video, but in this version, it has no ringer on/off switch, so it’s tough luck if you want to take a nap. The 305 model added this mod-con. I’ve also been experiencing inconsistent problems with the pulse dialing, I suspect this 70 year old unit needs a tune-up. Short numbers like 411 I’ve been pretty successful, but it is a real challenge to get a full seven digit number to dial. I’ll keep troubleshooting and see if I can resolve that.
If you’re looking for a classic rotary or touch-tone phone to put on your Fusion line, check eBay’s classic telephones section. YMMV, buyer beware, really old phones may or may not work, etc. I’d suggest something like a Western Electric 500, rotary or touch-tone. They are a great addition to your household as a phone to use when power is out, and unlike a cordless, you will never find yourself rummaging around the couch cushions trying to find your classic corded phone!