Cable Isn’t the Only Cord Americans Are Cutting
Life and Leisure

Cable Isn’t the Only Cord Americans Are Cutting

Vadym Drobot

The home landline may be going the way of the cassette tape and the floppy disk.

For the first time since the introduction of cell phones, a majority of American households do not have landline telephone service.

New government data shows that 50.8 percent of Americans homes have at least one cell phone but no landline, up from 41 percent just three years ago. Meanwhile, the share of homes with both landlines and cell phones has fallen from 47.7 percent to 39.4 percent. Just 6.5 percent of families have a landline without cell service, and 3.2 percent have no phone service at home at all.

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More than 60 percent of American children now live in homes with wireless phones only. Rates of cell phone-only homes were highest in the South, while homes in the Northeast were the most likely to maintain landlines.

Percentage of Landlines in US Homes

For many homes that have both landline and cell phone service, the former is rarely used. Nearly 40 percent of those with both said they received all or almost all calls on their cell phones.

While shifting away from landlines may be a cheaper and more convenient move for consumers, it has some downsides. It can be difficult to charge cell phones during a sustained power outage (although landlines that run via fiber-optic cables don’t work either), and many 911 systems can not yet accurately pinpoint emergency calls made on cell phones.