Are Landline Phones Relevant Anymore?


We’ve been tracking the demise of the landline phone in the US for some time now.  The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics conducts regular surveys and semi-annual estimates of the number of so-called “wireless only” households.  While there’s a significant lag in the data, the trend is obvious.

As of the end of 2022, the NCHS estimates that 73.2% of adults in the US live in homes without a landline.  While there’s a tiny fraction of people with no phone at all, the vast majority of these folks are “wireless only”.

And the trend line is obvious. Over the last 2 years, the percentage of people who are wireless only has grown by more than 6 points, or about 3 points per year. At that rate, we’re less than 10 years from the point that the percentage of people with a landline will be negligible. 

We don’t think that the rate of decline will continue to the point where no one has a landline, but there’s no question that landlines will be less and less relevant as time goes on. We’re already at the point where some demographic groups are almost 90% wireless-only. 

And there’s a feedback loop that has, and will continue to essentially eliminate landline service as an option for many people.  Because building and maintaining landline service is increasingly not profitable for telephone companies, that service is becoming unavailable, especially in rural areas and even in some new developments. 

But there are still reasons for public safety and emergency managers to include landlines in their emergency notification systems.  Less than half of people over the age of 65 live in wireless-only households, for example, and there are still people with only a landline phone. And where service is available, landlines are often much more reliable in rural areas.  

The shift to wireless has been a major theme in Hyper-Reach’s planning over the last few years, which is why we’ve put such an emphasis on registration methods and expanding the ways we help you reach the public. Which is why you should read this issue’s article on Nextdoor, the latest addition to the social media integrations available with Hyper-Reach.


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