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Majority of US Households Now Cellphone-Only, Government Says (networkworld.com) 133

The National Center for Health Statistics has released a report that says, for the first time in history, U.S. households with landlines are now in the minority. Network World reports: The second 6 months of 2016 was the first time that a majority of American homes had only wireless telephones. Preliminary results from the July-December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that 50.8% of American homes did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) -- an increase of 2.5 percentage points since the second 6 months of 2015. Young adults (25-34) and those who rent are most likely to live wireless-only, as 70 percent of that demographic lives with a landline.
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Majority of US Households Now Cellphone-Only, Government Says

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  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:43PM (#54357913)

    I still have a landline. I need it so that when I can't find my cellphone, I can call it and search for the ringing sound.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:53PM (#54357953)

      https://www.wheresmycellphone.... [wheresmycellphone.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Great! Finally a site I can input my cell phone number that has no AUP, TOS, or Privacy Policy...
        Who do I know that I think needs to locate their phone...
        at 3 AM on a Tuesday...

        • I can't get by with just cellophane. Sometimes I need to use aluminum foil.
        • Whenever confronted with a spammer web site that wants your phone number ... simply enter "911" Then the scumbags get in trouble for making fake 911 calls.
          • Hey, the site accepted the number. Too bad I'll never know if it worked.

            Your phone is ringing. Run! Go find it!

    • by NFN_NLN ( 633283 )

      If you have internet and a PC use a softphone such as google voice. Saved my ass 30+ times.

    • Put it on your keychain. Try not to lose both......

      https://www.thetileapp.com/ [thetileapp.com]

    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday May 04, 2017 @09:01PM (#54358453) Homepage Journal

      I still have a landline. I need it so that when I can't find my cellphone, I can call it and search for the ringing sound.

      If your phone is an Android device, try https://www.google.com/android... [google.com]

      It's better than calling because when you use the device manager to ring the phone, it rings max volume, even if the ringer was turned down or silenced, and it rings for five minutes so you don't have to keep calling while you trace the sound.

      • You remember a link? I just type "where is my phone" into Google. Providing you're actually logged into Google it will offer the device manager right in the search results.

        • You remember a link? I just type "where is my phone" into Google. Providing you're actually logged into Google it will offer the device manager right in the search results.

          Actually, I search for "Android Device Manager".

          • That's fine, just don't recommend your grandma to google Android Device Manager. Otherwise when she loses her phone she'll go looking for the piece of paper that has written on it what to search for.

            "Android Device Manager": Returns a link as the number one search result for you to access Android device manager.
            "where is my phone": Actually embeds Android Device Manager into the search result.

            As counter-intuitive as that may be...

    • by Ailicec ( 755495 )
      Backwards here.. we use the cell phone to call in repair requests for the land line (and give them a required callback number.. ahem).
    • That's not only funny, it's so true!!

      I have a landline, well a voip phone. It costs be zero dollars per month for service because it's an OOMA. But I do pay about $5 a month for the telcom fees--- but that get's me 911 service. For me the key reason to have a land line is that there's a line associated with the physical location of the house that anyone, visitors, baby sitters or the family can use. Furthemore I don't like carrying my cell inside the house. I've got 4 hand sets so it rings all over the

      • My wife and I do the same thing, except with Google Voice and an ObiTalk [obitalk.com]. Since Google Voice does not provide 911, my account is hooked up indirectly through a third-party VoIP service (PhonePower). It works out to be slightly cheaper than your solution ($50 up-front and $35/year for the ObiTalk + PhonePower vs. $200 up-front + (apparently) $5/month for Ooma).

        • That's interesting. thanks. The price of OBI on amazon is now $50 and for an ooma $71. The annual fee is going to be the same but will vary where you live since in both cases you will have telecom and E911 fees that are identical.

    • Ha ha ha. Good one. WE have two cell phones in the house so when someone can't find theirs I just call it.
    • I have an invention that can solve that problem. It's a smartphone case with a cord that attaches to the wall, so you'll never loose your phone again. Patent pending.

  • but it's $40/mo. I've pretty much got to have a cell phone for a variety of reasons. I can't afford to spend money on something as superfluous as a land line. I know I'll be screwed in the event of a disaster but, well, I'm an American. When disaster strikes I'm gonna be screwed no matter what. What's the phrase I used to use? "My safety net is made of razor wire"...
    • by E-Rock ( 84950 )

      What disaster is averted or lessened by having a land line? The cellular network is more likely to be available (or come back online first) in the event of a disaster.

      • What disaster is averted or lessened by having a land line? The cellular network is more likely to be available (or come back online first) in the event of a disaster.

        Perhaps where you live, but where I'm at, every time there is a disaster, the cellular network goes down within an hour, as people in the area call their relatives, and exhaust the batteries in the cell towers.

        Other than that, I have found that 100 percent of the calls on my soon to be gone land line are scammers.

        • Other than that, I have found that 100 percent of the calls on my soon to be gone land line are scammers.

          I used to have a land line, but I'm thinking of restoring service. I would simply turn off the ringer on all attached devices to avoid the scams and political calls. I don't want it so people can call me, but so I can call others. I'd also want it for fax service and for dial-up internet when my cable service fails (which seems to happen often). I don't send faxes often but there were times when it came in real handy, usually when dealing with some government agency. Faxes are secure while e-mails are

          • I used to have a land line, but I'm thinking of restoring service. I would simply turn off the ringer on all attached devices to avoid the scams and political calls. I don't want it so people can call me, but so I can call others.

            Yes, killing the ringer is a sound practice. The main reason I have my landline is that I have a triple play bundle

            I'd also want it for fax service and for dial-up internet when my cable service fails (which seems to happen often). I don't send faxes often but there were times when it came in real handy, usually when dealing with some government agency. Faxes are secure while e-mails are not.....

            I always said I have never picked up a virus via fax. And yes, your post reminded me that it is another use for my landline. The folks I do my investments and finances with like faxes, and while some folks think fax is dead, it definitely is not if you have legal and money issues to deal with.

            Insightful post.

          • Faxes are secure while e-mails are not

            They're both equally secure. They both typically go unencrypted from endpoint to endpoint, and you have to trust that the communication backbone itself hasn't been tapped.

        • I don't understand your point. The landline network also needs electricity, to run the switches and all the connected phones.
          Or are cellphone towers in your country not connected to the electricity net?
          • I don't understand your point. The landline network also needs electricity, to run the switches and all the connected phones. Or are cellphone towers in your country not connected to the electricity net?

            I'll provide a link here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

            Anyhow, despite it's dinosaur like qualities, land line telephones have a lot of sophisticated switching going on that makes them bit more resistant to electrical outage. Usually things can be switched around to provide service. Now this doesn't mean that when the pole outside your house comes grashing down and breaks the lines that you will still have service. But I have had several incidences of the cell phone tower's electricity being cut off

            • I guess it would be best to have access to both networks anyway.
              Still, I wonder why cellphone networks would be built less reliable than landline networks. Landline networks also need electricity for the nodes to function. And they fail when cables get damaged, while cellphone networks only need the towers to work. Though at least in my country the electricity for the landline network is supplied through the network itself, so it does not rely on the electricity network. I guess there is the actual problem
        • Other than that, I have found that 100 percent of the calls on my soon to be gone land line are scammers.

          \

          That's one of the other big problems with land-lines. A never-ending stream of junk calls. You still get junk calls with a cell phone, but nothing like when I had a land-line. If the phone companies had any sense, they'd kick the telemarketers off their network because making the decision to cut the cord is easy once you realize you are basically paying a bunch of money so you can be interrupted and

      • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:30PM (#54358115) Homepage Journal

        That depends on the area. In many places, cell towers have as little as 24 hours of backup power. Most COs for POTS lines have a week or more.

        The actual copper is often buried where it won't be blown down by storms, unlike a tower.

        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @06:18AM (#54359711)

          Wow really? A tower blown over by a storm? If that's going on you're not going to care about local cell coverage because you should have evacuated long before that point. Towers don't blow over.

          The power issue however is real, but over the years I've lost my POTS connection far more often than my cell phone due to failed ageing equipment, backhoes doing what they do best and ripping through infrastructure, and just plain incompetence from people trying to manage the ratnest of wire that makes up a typical copper phone line connection.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Towers can get knocked down, it depends on the tower and the weather. You can't evacuate for a tornado, for example, but that can certainly take out a cell tower. I've seen cell towers take themselves out due to a battery failure.

        • I live in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, where we have trees, trees, and more trees. If we lose power, it's most often because a tree fell down through the power lines, which continues downward and breaks any telephone and cable service copper and fiber optic lines that are below the power lines. So, yeah, the cell phone towers with backup power (many with microwave LOS relays) prove far more reliable, even if fuel for their backup generators is limited.
      • E-Rock: I have your answer. Nope - even in emergencies the cell network rides over the Public Switched Telephone Network of PSTN. In times of peril both wireline and wireless are pretty much useless.

        However there is another thing, get your amateur radio license - it's inexpensive and the tests pretty easy multiple choice. Plus there is no longer a requirement to learn Morse code like I did, but that's beside the point. Then pickup a sub $100 VHF/UHF/DMR/D-Star/whatever radio. Those ALWAYS work so long as
        • I will disagree on amateur radio "always" working. I have an amateur radio license and I will take a radio with me when I travel long distances. I can recall several cases when I could contact a local UHF or VHF repeater and no one was listening. It's gotten to a point that I find my CB radio more useful. Long haul truckers still use CB radio to discuss weather, road hazards, etc. I can imagine CB radio being more useful even when not traveling. FRS/GMRS radios might even be more useful than amateur r

      • Medical emergencies for one. If calling from home on a land line the location is known based on the phone number. If calling from home on a cell phone, even with the GPS systems required in phones now, the location has a fairly large error zone. There's several examples of this kind of failure being demonstrated.

        Extended power outages for another. Because of the costs of burying power lines overhead lines are still the norm in many places. Also due to costs telephone lines are typically buried. Ice, s

        • the location has a fairly large error zone

          Especially in an apartment building with multiple floors.

    • but it's $40/mo.

      Of course, it is — the costs of the infrastructure are largely fixed. It (almost) does not matter, whether the network is used by 100 or 100000 people. So, as the number of users dwindles, the costs born by the remaining users go up.

      Watching some old cartoons the other day, I had to explain to my older kid, what "payphone" used to be... The younger one may need the same explanation for a "landline".

      Seriously, if you told someone, you "left your phone at home" in the 1980ies (or even

      • I haven't had a landline for a few years, since I ditched AT&T DSL for cable internet, but I kind of miss the "thrill" I got with my first cordless phone, freeing me from the tyranny of the handset being cabled to the phone. Then there were the cool little Uniden 648 handsets that were as small as a cellphone. I miss those days when I didn't even feel a real need to constantly have a phone attached to my body. Even now, about the only real reasons for me to have a cellphone are: 1) as mentioned, landl
        • I haven't had a landline for a few years, since I ditched AT&T DSL for cable internet,

          I was using my landline phone to call the cable company to report a complete service outage, and as part of the script this agent actually tried to sell me Comcast Voice. As in, how'd I like to put a few more of my eggs in the Comcast basket?

          • Bundling may seem to reduce your costs overall, but it makes it that much harder to switch providers if you ever decide to. (which is no doubt precisely why the companies try to push it so much)
            • Yup. Time-Spectrum has my landline for no extra cost, but that means if I switch to someone else, I'll have the extra hassle of switching phone too. Or going 100% cellphone.

  • I am 37 and the last time I had a land line was at my parents house when I moved out in 1999, so its 18 years for me and everyone I know with no POTS, its just downhill from there

    hell even my parents house is VOIP though the cable company

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      The only one in my family left on a POTS line is my grandmother.

    • I still have my landline, but if it wasn't free as part of a bundle, I'd probably let it go. My mom still has her landline, but I convinced her to get a cellphone after her landline started acting up.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:07PM (#54358023)

    Pretty sure in 1800, the majority of U.S. households did not own a landline telephone.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:09PM (#54358041) Homepage Journal

    There should be at least one person to actually use the cell phones.

    • You're right, the house doesn't need a cellphone OR a landline. Alexa uses the internet. (so I hear)
  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @08:02PM (#54358269)
    Can you imagine the amount of copper theft, if thieves knew that a lot of those old copper trunk lines have for the most part been abandoned? Yeah, some old alarm systems and a few older landline phones, but most POTS phones are long gone, leaving most of the copper just hanging there. I know one of the trunk lines in my town is abandoned, because at&t doesn't even bother pumping the liquid nitrogen into the line to dry out the moisture like they use to. They kept a tank on that line for over 15 years but last year they took it off, a few years after they buried fiber in the same footprint under the ground.
    • Re:Copper theft (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hans Lehmann ( 571625 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @11:24PM (#54358883)
      Do you really think that Joe CrackHead would stop to think whether phones are still in use before he stripped and sold them? "Oh no, I better not steal these wires to support my habit; someone might still talking to their mother on them. I should wait until I receive official notice that they're no longer in use before I resort to my plan of thievery!"
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Do you really think that Joe CrackHead would stop to think whether phones are still in use before he stripped and sold them?

        "Oh no, I better not steal these wires to support my habit; someone might still talking to their mother on them. I should wait until I receive official notice that they're no longer in use before I resort to my plan of thievery!"

        People get scared of what might happen if it's live, but think it's fair game if it's abandoned.

        The railway near where I live de-electrified one of their lines, and sold the copper overhead for scrap. The scrap dealer who bought it decided to leave it there for a couple of years before tearing it down as copper prices were shooting upwards at the time. They just left it electrified with a few hundred volts. Once word got out that electric trains no longer ran on that line, there were about half a dozen idio

    • Can you imagine the amount of copper theft, if thieves knew that a lot of those old copper trunk lines have for the most part been abandoned?

      Since when the service status of copper (active / abandoned / etc) have any impact on copper theft.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @08:12PM (#54358307)

    Young adults (25-34) and those who rent are most likely to live wireless-only, as 70 percent of that demographic lives with a landline.

    If 70 percent of any demographic lives with landline phone service, how can they be most likely to be without landline phone service? Interesting use of statistics, I think.

    • Those groups are more likely than other groups to be wireless-only, not that those groups are more likely to be wireless-only than they are to have al landline.

  • Does VOIP count?

    I have a business VOIP Line.

    I've converted my inlaws to a VOIP line just this week. Their landline was $45/mo (with tax in). The VOIP line I'm expecting to be less than $10/mo based on their previous monthly average usage. $3/mo for the DID and around 500-700 minutes at $0.01 per minute.

  • It doesn't cost very much (mine is $20/mo), it's a redundant method of being contacted that works even when the power is out, and the call quality is much, much better than my cell phone (weak service area). And you have a phone number that you can give out to people that doesn't hit your cell phone.

    I use my cell phone for work. It's critical for that. I don't need people spamming me. If you spam my landline? Well, for starters, it doesn't take texts, so those fall into the bit bucket. They almost never le
    • by msk ( 6205 )

      It costs a lot here, for AT&T. Every couple of months, the price went up. When they botched a move of DSL service to a new residence, I gave up on AT&T and went wireless-only for primary phone. I have Google Voice which I use on cable internet for those times I don't want to use airtime.

      As for a real phone, I can connect a headset to my mobile or use Google Voice with a gaming quality headset.

      Long term, I should be paying less per month than I was with AT&T in the mix.

    • 20$ invested in index fund at 7%, that is $52,822.50 in 40 years
  • by cshay ( 79326 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @10:14PM (#54358667)

    From the survey:

    Landline = "at least one phone inside your home that is
    currently working and is not a cell phone.â

    This includes a phone via cable internet.

    So not POTS. POTS has probably already been a minority for years.

    • But how many people actually hook up a landline phone to the VOIP port on the cable modem? Comcast, for example, charges more for internet+cable TV if you don't take the service package that also includes the bundled VOIP service, so a lot of us take the three-service package, and never hook up the landline phone. (It also gives the scammers one more number to waste their time calling, but will never be picked up.)
  • A landline phone is still useful if you're asked for a phone number (e.g., in an online form). You give them the phone number of your landline - but you never answer that landline phone. Instead, make all incoming landline calls go to an answering machine (that you check every few days, just in case you get a useful call).

    Meanwhile, use your cell phone for all 'real' calls.

    The drawback of doing this is that you have to pay for the landline - but that's only ~$20-something/month in the US.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      This makes no sense when you can get a VoIP service to do the same for a fraction of the cost.

      Or outside the US, a second mobile service. Here I can have a prepaid second mobile with all calls going to voicemail, which is sent as an MMS.
      I think I put $20 a year on it to keep it going. A pity you have to pay for incoming calls.

  • I just, as in earlier this week, cancelled my landline. It was part of a cable bundle deal that was cheaper (though not by much) than just both cable and internet for two years. Deal ended, I cancelled the voice service. Never did hook up a phone.

    I'm about to turn 40 and my girlfriend is about to turn 50, so I think we're in the "old farts that probably still have a landline" demographic.

  • I kept my landline for years because my kids were old enough to stay at home alone sometimes, but didn't yet have their own phones. I then ported my number to google voice and use an Obi to connect my old handset to it. I pay $0 each month now, but I have no 911 service. I did redirect 911 to my local non-emergency call center, who are the people who answer 911 anyway just at a higher priority.
    At this point I rarely pick that line up, unless it's a delivery or something, everyone I care about uses my cell n

  • Although it might be growing in popularity to become a "cord cutter" (in terms of phones) many people forget: Some loan companies (especially mortgages) require the recipient to have a land line. In the event of a natural disaster a land line might be more reliable than a cell phone. Cell towers can be taken out while phone lines are buried. Even when your power is out, you might still be able to make a land-line call because their system is powered separately.
  • There was a minority of households having landlines from 1876-19xx. Sorry, couldn't find the number.

  • Most households now do not have a landline ... and the rest wish they didn't, but are forced to take one because it's included in Triple Play "bundles" and it actually costs more to NOT have it.
  • I wonder how many people are like me. For years I had no home phone. They I signed up for Charter (now Spectrum) Internet and Cable service. I wound up having to let them give me a landline or else I would have had to pay a higher price. I don't use the landline. In fact, I tried to use it, and received a large number of spam calls from...Charter! They were trying to collect money from the previous owner of the phone number they gave me. There was no way to convince them that I am the sad new recipient of t
  • I had no idea there was anywhere *near* 50% of homes that still had a landline in 2017. That is insane to me. I thought we finally gave up on them a decade ago or so. Are they including VoIP as well? I hope this means we can finally end any and all subsidies given to communication companies for landlines. There is simply no need for them, anymore. Honestly, I'd be fine if the government subsidized some kind of VoIP device for those remaining senior citizen luddites who refuse to adapt to the modern wo

  • Sorry, but you'll pry my landline out of my cold dead fingers. I imagine those that are cell-only are a mix of spoiled urban dwellers combined with idiotic rural folks who probably also see smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and first-aid kits as wastes of money too. If they could save $1000 on their car and not get seatbelts, they'd probably do that too.

    So here's a reality check for all of you folks living in your urban distortion bubble: cell phones are unreliable for the majority of the country that ar

  • I finally am cellphone-only after a decade of my internet provider refusing to provide internet service unless I had a phone line.

    I know what you're thinking, DSL requires a phone line, right? Nope. They provide fiber to the home, but they won't provision it unless you also get their VoIP service because (they claim) of some FCC requirement. ....at a cost of $30 for the phone line.

    It made their base package:
    $60/mo for 5 down/1 up plus $30 for a phone line that isn't connected to anything.
    The total c
  • This figure goes hand in hand with the recent study that showed more people accessing the net with android over windows.

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