More U.S. Households Hanging Up Their Landline Phones

scissors cutting communication cable
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

ATLANTA -- More American households are ditching their old telephones: 4 out of 10 only use cellphones, a government survey shows.

That's twice the rate from just five years ago, although the pace of dumping landlines seems to have slowed down in recent years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking phone use for a decade, and the number of households only using cellphones had been rising by about 5 percentage points each year. Lately, the increases have been smaller and last year it only went up 3 percentage points to 41 percent of U.S. homes.

Why the slight leveling off? Experts could only speculate. The lead researcher on the CDC report, Stephen Blumberg, said it could be people are holding onto their landlines because it is part of their Internet and cable TV package. Or it could mean that we're hitting a ceiling for those people willing to completely abandon landlines, said John Palmer, a researcher at the Autonomous University in Barcelona, Spain, who was not involved in the report.

Some non-experts were surprised to hear that the change has slowed down a bit.

"We switched to only cellphones three years ago. The only time we would get calls on the landline was from telemarketers," said Justin Hodowanic, an 18-year-old college freshman from Atlanta.

Dan Warhola, 34, said he had a landline at his Columbus, Ohio, home but only because his security system was tied into it years ago when he bought his house.

"I couldn't even tell you what my [landline] phone number is," said Warhola, standing at baggage claim at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The CDC survey released Tuesday is based on in-person interviews in more than 21,000 homes during the last half of 2013. The researchers found:
  • Not all homes have phones: About 3 percent have no landline or cellphone.
  • About 9 percent have only landlines, and about 48 percent have both. Five years ago, 17 percent had only landlines, and about 60 percent had landlines and cellphones.
  • Younger people rely more on cellphones: Nearly two-thirds of people in their late 20s live in households with only cellphones. Only 14 percent of people 65 and older use only cellphones.
  • Men are a bit more likely to shun landlines than women.
  • Poor adults are much more likely than higher-income people to have only cellphones.
  • The Midwest is the most wireless region: About 44 percent live in cellphone-only homes. The South and West were nearly as high. In the Northeast, 25 percent live in cellphone-only households.

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A footnote to this story, many communities fight the carriers who try to install cell towers for more reliable service despite a finding by the US Government that cell towers pose no health risks these combatants are convinced young children will become ill due to these cell towers.

July 10 2014 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We don't have a phone. No friends no family and sure don't need solicitations from anyone.
We use drums in an emergency.

July 09 2014 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to venturamickey's comment

Just like "the good old days"!


July 09 2014 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I keep my landline mostly because we send faxes once in a blue moon. Hard to send those thru wireless. But I guess we could scan it and send it via that thing called E-mail. Or I guess we can go somewhere and send a fax at $1 per page plus gas and our time.

July 09 2014 at 12:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to marinewest's comment

You can still use your fax machine on the internet phone. Works just like a land line.

July 09 2014 at 2:50 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The only calls i get on my land line is telemarkers-people selling **** ,i only answer it on the 5th ring-most sellers hang up by then..

July 09 2014 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to puxer181's comment

But they keep calling you daily.

July 09 2014 at 12:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The imbeciles in the Flat Earth Society are probably still dubious of the efficacy of the wheel.

Ya gotta love the dunces

July 08 2014 at 8:38 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Not having a landline can save you a nice peice of cash. I pay about $30.00 per month. That is $360.00 dollars a year. The only reason I still have the landline is because I have family in Canada and my long distance call are free.

July 08 2014 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jrbailey225's comment

My mobile plan allows unlimited calls anywhere in North America. But even if yours doesn't, why not just download some OTT app like Skype onto your smartphone, eliminate your landline bill, and still call them for free.

July 08 2014 at 8:48 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Why is the CDC investigating land lines, motorcycle helmits, etc

July 08 2014 at 6:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jdjjfship's comment

That's a damn good question.

July 08 2014 at 7:51 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

The last use we had for a landline was for dial-up internet service via AOHell in 2002-2003...

As soon as we were able to obtain Cable Internet, the land line went bye-bye and we became a cellular only family.

10+ years later there are 5 cell phones in our household, no land line and no useless cable-bundled VOIP phone either.

Good riddance!!!

July 08 2014 at 4:52 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

The poll only contacted people with landlines, just like all the other polls. They don't want to spend the money to send people door to door. After all, they have never been wrong.

July 08 2014 at 4:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Len's comment

You mean the poll used respondents landline to contact the 40% of the population without a landline?

That's pretty impressive!

July 09 2014 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I still have a land line and will keep it. It has great clarity, calls do not get dropped, is available when the power goes out. Plus, I can still use it for dialup internet when the wifi doesn't work.

July 08 2014 at 4:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply