A Hardline was the term used for non-wireless phones that the Redpills used in order to jack out of the Matrix. Because jacking in and out of the Matrix involved the transfer of large volumes of information and data, significant portals, represented by the wired connections, were needed to ensure the safe and successful entry or exit from the Matrix. A safe disconnection from the Matrix without using a proper hardline had not been possible and a forced disconnection by unduly unplugging the headjack always proved fatal.
Only the operators, who observed the Matrix from the Real World, were in the best position to prepare hardlines once the operatives had entered the Matrix. After a hardline is compromised, operators then either gave out the location of backup exits or scrambled to get another one prepared. The location of the hardlines were then crucial, specially, when facing off against Agents who were able to possess any bluepill, making telephones in public spaces impossible to use as a hardline without risking death.
- "Sinclair: Why were they only able to jack in through hard-lines, but still able to communicate over cell? Wachowskis: Sinclair, good question! Mostly we felt that the amount of information that was being sent into the Matrix required a significant portal. Those portals, we felt, were better described with the hard lines rather than cell lines. We also felt that the rebels tried to be invisible when they hacked that’s why all the entrances and exits were sort of through decrepit and low traffic areas of the Matrix.",Wachowskis Interview Transcript, MatrixFans.net