Why Ma Bell Got the Ill Communication

Published on May 13, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Nearly one in four U.S. households has abandoned traditional landline telephones in favor of their wireless brethren. That’s the word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says in a new study (PDF) that 25 percent of the households it polled for its Wireless Substitution survey are wireless-only, while just 15 percent are landline-only. Quite a change from 2006 when 11 percent of homes claimed to use only cellphones.

And the trend here is self-evident. In the last six months of 2009, the number of households with no landline but at least one cell rose 4.3 percent year-over-year. It’s no wonder the telecom industry is seeing ugly and continued losses in traditional landline service revenue.

Clearly, the mobile phone is increasingly viewed as a necessity and the landline a luxury. As well they should be: The former let’s you make and receive calls to and from almost anywhere, check e-mail and take pictures; the latter allows you to make and receive calls–nothing more. Given that, why bother with a landline? And given the obvious answer to that question, how long will it be before the landline goes the way of the rotary dial phone?

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