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May 14, 2007

« Find the Best City for You | Main | Money and Happiness »

While there is a bias towards young adults, the number of people dropping land-line phones for cell phones is increasing. A new survey by the federal government finds that more than 25% of young adults have only cell phones. Moreover, the portion of adults with only cell phones grew more than 2% in the latter half of the year and is now nearly 12% of all adults.

This finding not only has implications for researchers and emergency services, but also for telemarketers and marketers in general as potential customers use mobile, technologically advancing devices to communicate, shop, and enjoy content. 

Have you dropped your land-line? Why or why not?

posted by David


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There are 2 problems with using a cell phone instead of a wired phone (landline).

First, in an emergency, a call to 911 can be pinpointed to your address in most areas. The policy, at least where I live, is to send police out if the call is interrupted. The cell phone is not always that precise, and you can even be routed to emergency services in another state if you are close to a state border.

Second, during an extended power outage you may not be able to recharge the cell phone, resulting in no phone after a short period of time. The old fashioned copper based pots (plain old telephone service) will run even if your electricity is off. Just don't expect your answering machine and cordless phones to work.


I have not dropped my land line. I do have VOIP, however. I think cell phones are a necessary evil, but I do not want to incur the costs of using it as much as I would if I dropped the land line.


Kens point is a good one about power outages. Would have to buy one of those handcrank chargers or keep lots of backup batteries.

I would love to drop my land-line, but my cell phone service and reception is spotty at best. When I am in my home (an early 1900s rowhouse in DC) i don't get very good reception. While this would keep my bill down and make me more productive, it might be dangerous and cause social isolationism. Also, dropped calls are still very much with us all (at least here in the US) as evidenced by ad campaigns of major providers

Ryan Z

I prefer to use my cell but like others, the technology is still spotty and just walking around my house I lose connection in many spots.

One of the chief reasons I keep my landline though is that it is necessary for my DSL connection. I'd go cable modem but I prefer satellite tv.


We dropped the land line a couple years ago, recognizing that only telemarketers called us on it -- friends always tried our cel phones first. Most people I know who are in their 20s don't have land lines -- although most of our friends (mid to late 30s) do still have them.

As for power outage issues: my phone charge lasts days unless I'm talking constantly (which I'm usually not since I'm either at the office with a land line, looking after my toddler, or writing in the evenings).

So, in the event of a power outage or emergency, I'd have the juice to make calls. Also, during an emergency or power outage many landlines don't work anyway as whatever caused the power outage will damage the phone lines too.

As for 911, the technology exists to track your precise location through triangulation. At least this is what industry experts have told me. Yet, for some reason 911 services don't do this. I think there are some privacy issues, regulations, and perhaps 911 service investment requirement involved.


Handcrank for cell phone....
there are some that sell for about $20


In theory I would love to drop our land line, but we have stuck with one for a variety of reasons.

1. The power outage situation still holds. Even though it is theoretically possible for both power and land line phone service to go down, it is HIGHLY unlikely that that land line would because it has an independent power source.

2. Our new home came pre-wired for a land-line based security system. We got a good deal using that system and signing up for a monthly monitoring service contract; we got no charge for the equipment (sensors, keypads, etc.) because of that. Had it come with the newer cellular/wireless security systems, we would have had

3. Because of land-line stability we stick with DSL connection rather than cable modem, even though we have cable TV. DSL speeds are also more consistent (less dependent on neighbors' data traffic) than cable, even if they are a bit slower for the same price. Cable internet, like cable TV, can often be knocked out by a thunderstorm or stiff wind. And of course, having DSL requires us to have a land line (in addition to our home security system requiring a land line).

4. My wife and I occasionally like to simultaneously speak on separate phones with our friends & relatives, especially our parents. This is harder with cell phones (we don't want to deal with having to set up three-way calling each time).

5. One thing we HAVE chucked is the land line long distance service. It's a rip-off when you have to pay for a multi-phone family cell plan as well. We have SunRocket VOIP service instead. So we pay $23/mo. for the local land line and $17/mo. for SunRocket, coming out to a very competitive $40/mo. This is comparable to the digital phone service cable TV companies provide.

Now, down the line we may chuck the land line completely, especially if we can move the security system to a wireless one for a reasonable price. Currently this is the biggest obstacle to our dumping our land line (I'd like to have the alarm work in the event of a power outage). My brother-in-law has an older home and got a new wireless system installed, and he's been happy with it. My brother who is 28 has never had a land line after leaving college. Our SunRocket VOIP service can easily migrate to a cable or satellite Internet service instead of DSL. So time will tell, but I like the idea of all-wireless around the home.


Dropped the landline a year ago (could have done it sooner, but didn't have the nerve, gave up my home number which I'd had for over 10 years) I'm 37, a college grad, have a well paying IT job, so I don't quite fit the 20 something, low income profile described in the article. However, I do know more than a few 30 something college educated people who are cell only as well. I noticed that I would sometimes go a month or more without ever using my landline, and kept the ringer turned off. Also I'm rarely home, and keeping a landline, thats physically tied to home just seemed silly. The only calls I got on the landline were from telemarketers anyway. Everybody I cared to talk to I gave my cell number to. I had a basic $29.99 landline plan, no long distance, from Qwest (had to pay extra for call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, etc, which seems silly as it is included with my cell plan automatically) plus about $20 in taxes and fees. The taxes and fees are ridiculous. I have Comcast for Internet (6 Mbps down, 768K up, very reliable), so dropping the landline was a no brainer. It also helps that about 90% of people I talk to are also with my carrier, Verizon, so those calls are free, and I've been able to get by with just the minimum plan, 450 minutes for $39.99, about $46.00 with taxes and fees. I hardly ever even come close to using all my minutes, but it's nice to know they're there if I need them. I also treat my cell phone as my home phone, and use it as such. I will NOT talk in public, and if I do get a call, I usually will excuse myself somewhere private, or else call the person back later. I don't like being bothered, or bothering other people with frivolous calls like a lot of people I see. I only make calls that I would have made otherwise. For me, a cell phone is my personal telephone, which just happens to be mobile, which is really, really a nice thing. Mobility is great! As far as power outages and such, they are quite rare (usually very brief, once every few years as far as I can tell, probably because all utilities around here are underground, cable included). I've never called 911, but from what I hear from others, E911 actually works fairly well around here. The only real negative is losing the phone, but I keep all my old phones, and use Verizon's feature to back up my address book online, so losing a phone is not too big of a deal. I lost a couple when I was brand new to cellular, but I've had my current phone almost 2 years (elgible for an upgrade in a couple months, yay!). I buy phones that give the best clarity, signal sensitivity, battery life, and that have analog, as I live in the West, and in some rural places, analog is all you can find even now in the 2000's. All the extra bells and whistles I could care less about, so my phones are pretty basic, and relatively inexpensive. Motorola seems to be the best in my opinion.

david watson

If you were a SunRocket customer, it is better for you to shop around first and see which one provides the best services in terms of voice quality and customer service. I think Lingo has fine calling plans for ex-SunRocket customers. As they are backed by Primus, we can expect good service from them and they will not disappear easily as SunRocket did.

john l scott real estate

Howard Schultz, the former owner (who sold the team two years ago) has decided to sue the new owners. His goal; to declare the sale of the team null and void as a means of keeping the team in Seattle- and retuning his validity and helping his reputation so he will not be seen as the‘ man who lost the Sonics’. However, I personally fail to see how after two years, Schultz, has any legal claim to‘ undo’ the sale simply to make himself look good. I hope the courts wont waste to much time and tax dollars on this nonsense. The State on the other hand seems to have no problem wasting tax dollars and time on the issue at hand. The State Legislature and the Governor have decided to step in and have recently sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern, urging him“ to reject or delay a scheduled vote on allowing the Sonics to move to Oklahoma City”. Somehow I imagine the State has more important things to do than write letters to the NBA. In any case; the team is not a matter of the state what so ever. If the city government in Seattle cared to keep them around they would make an effort; they have not. This is between the NBA, the current owners, the team, and Seattle.

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