Do you still have a landline at home? Then you may be part of a demographic that’s clinging to a fading technology.
According to a U.S. government study released this week, the number of American households who dropped their traditional landlines in favor of having only wireless cellphone connections rose in 2016.
The study shows that in the latter half of last year, 50.8 percent of American homes opted for having a wireless service as their sole means of phone communication. This is the first time cellphone-only households have outpaced the number of households that still have landline phones in the survey.
The percentage of households that still have landlines currently stand at 45.9 percent with 39.4 percent still having both landlines and wireless phones. Landline-only homes are at a mere 6.5 percent and the remaining 3.2 percent opted not to have any phone service whatsoever.
These numbers are based on an in-person survey of about 20,000 households as part of a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study aimed to find out the most effective way to contact people in current and future health studies. It did not, however, explore the reasons why a household could drop a landline.
Who is dropping the landline?
Nevertheless, the statistics reveal some interesting patterns. For example, the study found that adults near or below the poverty line were more likely to be wireless only.
Furthermore, according to Stephen J. Blumberg, the study’s co-author, “wireless-only adults are more likely to drink heavily, more likely to smoke and be uninsured.” And this pattern persists even after factoring for age and income.
“There certainly is something about giving up a landline that appeals to the same people who may engage in risky behavior,” Blumberg continued.
The government survey also revealed that more than 70 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have opted to be cellphone-only. Adults with children were more likely to drop the landline compared to households of multiple adults without children.
This certainly suggests that American consumers are dropping the landline mainly as a way to save money. Similar to how people are dropping traditional cable TV services to cut costs, going cellphone-only is a part of the rising cord-cutting movement.
Food for thought: Cable-TV providers have reportedly lost a record-breaking 762,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2017. That’s five times more than they lost in the same period last year!
Keeping the landline
As for the reasons why people still opt to keep their landlines. Time cites that due to technical necessities, such as the need for traditional copper wires for security systems, and phone and internet bundling by providers, leave some people with no choice on the matter.
Landlines are also more reliable in emergencies. Copper phone lines have their own power supplies and won’t go down in case a blackout occurs.
Additionally, since landlines are tied to an address, 911 dispatchers can accurately locate your house or apartment in case of an emergency. (A cellphone’s GPS system can currently only provide an approximate location.)
Landlines are also being used as spam honeypots for telemarketing calls – the default number people give to retailers or businesses when they ask for “a number they can reach you with.”
For some, a traditional landline is just a nostalgic security blanket they keep because let’s face it, if you grew up with one, a house may feel more like home to have one.
What do you think? Have you ditched the landline yet? Drop us a comment!