In a sign that the recession is forcing phone companies to take bold measures to hold onto landline customers, Verizon Communications Inc. is considering a $5 monthly voice plan that would let customers receive calls but dial only 911 and Verizon customer service.

Verizon believes the plan could help slow the rate of landline customers cutting the cord, so to speak.

The company lost 3.7 million access lines, or 9.3 percent of its base, in 2008. Phone companies are concerned that consumers who are already tempted to switch to cable phone service or drop their landlines altogether and rely only on their cell phones will be pushed over the edge as the recession crimps household budgets.

The telecom provider could begin offering the new $5 plan by summer, along with a second, $10 monthly plan that would allow some limited local calling.

Only customers with high-speed Web access from Verizon would qualify for the new plans, according to a person close to the company.

Verizon confirmed it is considering the plan but says it hasn't decided whether to move forward with it.

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