The Connected Nation Blog: Americans Are Increasingly Disconnecting from Landline Phones in Favor of Mobile Phones

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Americans Are Increasingly Disconnecting from Landline Phones in Favor of Mobile Phones

By Travis Lane, Research Analyst, Connected Nation

According to a new report released by The National Center for Health Statistics, Americans are increasingly disconnecting from landline phones and turning to their mobile telephone as their only source of communication.

According to this report, more than one in four American households (26.6%, or approximately 30.5 million households) have chosen to use mobile telephones rather than landline telephones to make and receive calls, an eightfold increase in just six years. The proportion of adults using only mobile phones has grown in all 50 states since 2007, and the data suggests that the growing trend of wireless-only households is not likely to be reversed (in ten states, at least 30 percent of adults rely solely on mobile phones).

Among the quickest to shed traditional landlines and use only mobile telephones are:

• Young people who have already adopted mobile phones and find no value in landlines

• Low-income residents who cannot afford to pay for two separate lines

• Renters, whose mobile lifestyle doesn’t require a traditional landline

According to
Connected Nation’s 2010 Residential Technology Assessments, 81% of adults living in Connected Nation states/territories own a cell phone, and about one in eight of those (13%) do not have a landline telephone connection. Younger adults and low-income households are also less likely to subscribe to a landline telephone: 65% of adults age 18-34 and 71% of adults with annual incomes below $25,000 do not have a land line telephone connection.

This has policy implications as the FCC weighs the benefits of reforming the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Lifeline program and High Cost Fund, which help ensure that low-income and rural residents can afford telephone service. As landline phones become less of a necessity, and the cost of broadband service becomes more affordable, we have to ask whether USF funding can effectively be shifted to support broadband access to low-income households. Simply making broadband less expensive will not ensure that every household adopts broadband, but with one in five adults (20%, or about 5.7 million adults) in Connected Nation states/territories citing cost as a barrier to adoption, it is not an insignificant hurdle to overcome.

Are you one of the “cord-cutters” who has traded in your landline phone for a cell phone? Are you happy with your decision, or do you miss having that landline phone? Tell us at