The Death of the Home Phone - NBC New York

The Death of the Home Phone

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Death of the Home Phone
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    The wall phone has seen better days.

    Just like VHS tapes and Compact Discs, landline phones are a dying breed.

    For the first time the number of U.S. households opting for only cell phones has for the surpassed those that just have traditional landlines, according to a study released --- for some reason --- by the Centers for Disease Control.  The study finds that 20 percent of homes now use only cell phones compared with 17 percent with just landlines.

    Stephen Blumberg, senior scientist at the CDC and an author of the report, attributed the growing number of cell-only households in part to a recession that has forced many families to scour their budgets for savings. People who live in homes that have only wireless service tend to be disproportionately low-income, young, renters and Hispanics, which leads to the conclusion that these homes are not using the iPhone.

    "We do expect that with the recession, we'd see an increase in the prevalence of wireless only households, above what we might have expected had there been no recession," Blumberg said

    Six in 10 households have both landlines and cell phones. Even so, industry analysts emphasized the public's growing love affair with the versatility of cell phones, which can perform functions like receiving text messages and are also mobile.

    "The end game is consumers are paying two bills for the same service," said John Fletcher, an analyst for the market research firm SNL Kagan, referring to cell and landline phones. "Which are they going to choose? They'll choose the one they can take with them in their car."

    Further underscoring the public's diminishing reliance on landline phones, the federal survey found that 15 percent of households have both landlines and cells but take few or no calls on their landlines, often because they are wired into computers. Combined with wireless only homes, that means that 35 percent of households — more than one in three — are basically reachable only on cells.

    The changes are important for pollsters, who for years relied on reaching people on their landline telephones. Growing numbers of surveys now include calls to people on their cells, which is more expensive partly because federal laws prohibit pollsters from using computers to place calls to wireless phones.

    About a third of people age 18 to 24 live in households with only cell phones, the federal figures showed, making them far likelier than older people to rely exclusively on cells. The same is true of four in 10 people age 25 to 29.

    About three in 10 living in poverty are from wireless-only households, nearly double the proportion of those who are not poor. Also living in homes with only cell phones are one in four Hispanics, four in 10 renters and six in 10 people living with unrelated adults such as roommates or unmarried couples.One in 50 households has no phones at all.