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Americans Give Up Landlines for Cell Phones

guy talking on phone. (Image credit:

Results of a new study show in detail what many have suspected all along: Mobile phones will be the death of the landline.

According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), one out of every four American families does not own a landline phone. Instead, 25 percent of American households are only using mobile phones. Further reinforcing the primacy of mobile phones, the study found that 15 percent of families that do own landlines receive all or almost all calls through wireless phones.

The study was carried out between July and December of 2009 and included information from more than 21,000 American families.

What the study found was solid evidence of the migration towards mobile technology that has been happening for years. It's no coincidence that the NCHS study also found the numbers of mobile-only phone users skewed to a younger demographic. These people reached adulthood as the cell phone became commonplace. Nearly 50 percent of 25-year-olds did not live in a household with a landline. The vast majority of exclusive cell phone users were under the age of 40.

The study does point out that even though younger adults are more likely to live without landlines, the number of mobile-only adults has increased over the last six years for every age group. The number of families that do not have any telephone service at all, meanwhile, has stayed unchanged for the last few years at around two percent.

The NCHS study turned up more interesting results about people likely to shun landlines. Over 40 percent of home renters had no landlines and were 14 percent more likely to have no landlines than home owners. And those at or near the poverty line were 20 percent more likely to only have mobile phones than their counterparts. Not only does refusing a landline make people more mobile, it's a cost-cutting maneuver.

Of course, one of the biggest questions resulting from the study is "What's a health statistics organization doing conducting surveys about phone lines?"

The study was meant to point out that phone surveys, including health surveys, conducted on landline accounts are no longer representative of the public as a whole because a large portion of the public isn't available by landline.

Naturally, the study did not mention that one of the things mobile users missed least about landlines is hearing the words "Do you have a moment to take a quick survey?"