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US Government reports are expected to show consumer cell phone expenditures passing land line expenditures

Since the invention of the telephone, land lines have always been an intrinsic part of American culture.  The telephone always took a central spot in the home, a place shared by many family members and a source of communication with the outside world.  From the old rotary dialers to the more familiar modern designs, the home telephone has always seemed a timeless icon.

However, a new report may soon show that the home telephone is headed into its twilight hour, replaced by chic modern cell phones like the Voyager, HTC Touch, and the iPhone.   The government report on phone expenditure, which is released each year, is expected to show for the first time household cell phone expenditures passing land lines.  Last year, land lines held a narrow edge with $524 spent on cell phone bills per household and $542 spent on residential and pay-phone services on average.

Cell phones already vastly outnumber land lines, by current estimates.  Current figures put land lines at about 170 million nationwide, while there are about 250 million cell phones in use nationwide.  Additionally, if corporate use is added to the expenditures, cell phones surpassed land lines a few years ago.

The shift has been rapid.  Only six years ago, American households spent three times as much on land lines than on cell phones.

Service providers are looking to rapidly shift their business towards the more lucrative and growing cell phone market. 
Eric Rabe, senior vice president for media relations at Verizon, commented on the slow death of the land line, saying, "As a company that once made the vast, vast majority of its revenue on phone calls, for 10 years we've been moving away from that and trying to re-establish ourselves in other businesses because we could see the traditional telephone was a mature business, it was not going to grow and indeed might even shrink."

The 2006 government survey, conducted by the Labor Department, contacted 7,500 households to form its estimates.  In 2006
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones were counted as land lines, while this year they will be counted separately, something that may further cut into land line's numbers.

In this modern era of digital revolution and wonders it is truly intriguing, but a bit sad in a nostalgic sense, to observe the slow death of the land line as society shifts away from this venerable household apparatus.

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Not Dying
By BladeVenom on 12/20/2007 12:37:53 PM , Rating: 2
Land lines aren't going to die; we still need them for DSL.

RE: Not Dying
By Rage187 on 12/20/2007 12:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
Luckily, no you don't

I get my naked DSL for $28.99

RE: Not Dying
By Mithan on 12/20/2007 12:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
Ya but still a land line. :)

RE: Not Dying
By webdawg77 on 12/20/2007 1:36:08 PM , Rating: 2
But you're not paying for voice service. That's what the article talks about ... revenue from voice services on the land line.

RE: Not Dying
By omnicronx on 12/20/2007 1:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
Regardless you still need a landline coming into your house for DSL, whether you have phone service or not.

RE: Not Dying
By srue on 12/20/2007 4:59:49 PM , Rating: 2
That's also true for cable/cable modems - there's a physical landline running to the house. But certainly those don't count as landline phone service.

RE: Not Dying
By Oregonian2 on 12/20/2007 5:23:46 PM , Rating: 2
Running Vontage/skype/etc over DSL over the copper wires. Is this a "landline"?

RE: Not Dying
By Oregonian2 on 12/20/2007 5:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - I'm not asking how it's counted, I'm asking if it *IS* a landline phone or not. Let me give a stronger example: Whenever FIOS is installed, the house's "landline" becomes an VOIP phone that runs over the fiber, even though there is no difference to the homeowner's use of it (or their phones). Unless they read the fine print they may not even know about the change!

RE: Not Dying
By Oregonian2 on 12/20/2007 5:42:32 PM , Rating: 2
P.P.S. - "landline" literally means using a line that's connected by land. So any phone that uses wires or fiber to the house (not wireless) should literally be a "landline" phone.

RE: Not Dying
By nitrous9200 on 12/20/2007 6:11:32 PM , Rating: 2
FiOS phone is POTS, not VoIP. You can also request to have your phone line stay on the copper and not switched to the fiber.

RE: Not Dying
By Oregonian2 on 12/20/2007 6:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
It is POTS between your phone and your garage where it hits the FiOS interface box, it's VOIP from there to the rest of the world (or at least your central office). That's my point of whether its a landline or not, looking from the kitchen it's POTS, looking from the street out front it's VOIP.

Yes, I know that if one is assertive, one can keep the copper phone connection, but it'll go VOIP by default (just became available a month or two at my house, will be signing up soon, but taking care of some other things first).

RE: Not Dying
By MrSmurf on 12/20/2007 5:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
Of course there is always going to be lines your your house but the article is referring to landline PHONES. AT&T is going to go all VOIP soon. It's cheaper and they'll sell their bulkly hardware to third party countries.

Why they matter
By Donkeyshins on 12/20/2007 3:33:49 PM , Rating: 4
The nice thing about land lines is that (barring major catastrophe that takes down the phone lines as well) they work when the power is out. Cell phones do too...until you run out of battery power and have nowhere to plug in to recharge. Given that I live in the Pacific Northwest where we had a power outage that lasted 5 days, the cell phone just didn't cut it. Luckily I had a land line and wired (e.g. non-powered non-cordless) phone for emergencies.

That's the biggest reason I won't ever go FIOS - you lose the ability to have a landline.

Just call me a neo-Luddite. Now off to listen to some records.

RE: Why they matter
By marvdmartian on 12/20/2007 4:25:39 PM , Rating: 3
Not to mention that in the various places I've lived, and gone through natural disasters, the phone lines have ALWAYS worked afterward.

How big a disaster? The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, anywhere from 6.9 to 7.2 on the Richter scale (depending on the source), phone service was spotty afterwards, but was available. When I lived in Guam in 1993, we had an 8.1 earthquake, and still had phones afterwards. Not to mention the 6 typhoons and numerous tropical storms we went through there......but thanks to the buried phone lines, we had landline phone service during and after each storm.

And like Donkeyshins said, your cell phone is only good until the battery dies.......and maybe even not that long, if the cell phone towers get knocked down!

Sorry, but until they can make longer lasting batteries and cheap satellite phones with service as reliable as my landline, I'll give up a cell phone long before I'll give up my landline.

RE: Why they matter
By Oregonian2 on 12/20/2007 5:29:24 PM , Rating: 2
Having worked on designing POTS (landline) phone-company quality networking equipment before, yes, they'll work through anything. The NEBS testing includes earthquake like physical abuse plus everything has to be "real-time" redundant so if something fails its a matter of milliseconds before the redundant hardware is operating in its place. Temp range that it has to run fine in is quite a wide range as well. Cell phone stuff is good, but not quite as bulletproof. Only bullet resistant.

RE: Why they matter
By teckytech9 on 12/20/2007 8:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
Landlines are important for emergency services, telemetry, and dial-up modems. Its true that companies who "own" the facilities, are migrating off of the Copper Plant, due to its high cost of maintenance (i.e. repeaters, circuit switches, etc.), in favor of fiber w/packetswitching.

The advantages of landlines are that there are no Minutes of Usage (MOU) charges, as in cell phones. Cell phone companies just love to rack up those MOU's especially in rounding off partial seconds to the full minute. A smart caller knows to use their landline, instead of their cell phone, when calling someone locally for a very long time.

RE: Why they matter
By Screwballl on 12/21/2007 11:07:57 AM , Rating: 2
as being in hurricane land of the Gulf Coast (FL), the phones were the first thing to come back up, they were only down for 1 day after Hurricane Ivan, yet the power was off for 2 weeks. After Dennis phones never went out but we were out of power for over a week.
I'll take POTS over VoIP/cell anyday that he weather may be rough.

RE: Why they matter
By timmiser on 12/23/2007 4:36:01 AM , Rating: 2
Although the line may be functional, most of the phones you can buy today require a plug into power and won't work if the power is out.

By spindoc on 12/20/2007 1:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not surprised when cell carriers are charging $5/month for call display. Telus anyway.

RE: Options
By omnicronx on 12/20/2007 1:39:09 PM , Rating: 2
Telus whats your with your phone?

Love their customer service, but everything else was nothing but problems.

I am still convinced I get better reception with morse code over the air than with a telus phone.

You are right though, most of the big landline carriers have a mobile division, they could make a killing if they slowly killed the land-line service. But as someone else mentioned, DSL still needs the use of landlines. Phone companies sure as hell don't want to give any advantage to cable companies so landlines are still a must.... for now..

No kidding
By IceTron on 12/20/2007 1:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone who's delt with Qwest as a telco carrier is reason enough to give landlines the finger and go strictly cell phone. Only landline I pay for is my beautiful 15/1mbps cable.

RE: No kidding
By FITCamaro on 12/20/2007 2:12:17 PM , Rating: 2
I wish that was an option here? :(

Best I get is $60 a month for 7Mbps down/768kbps up. And I rarely ever get that fast a speed. In Florida I had 10Mbps down and 1Mbps up for $45 a month.

Slow death?
By thesafetyisoff on 12/20/2007 2:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
Land lines have been dead among my circle for years. Internet is by FIOS or cable, faxes have been abandoned in favor of scanned attachments. There's just no reason for a land line.

RE: Slow death?
By Oregonian2 on 12/20/2007 5:32:15 PM , Rating: 2
It's a "us" phone number. My wife and I each have our individual cell phone numbers (which are NOT in the phone book) and we have the landline which is our "us" number that's public in the phone book. Still has a unique usefulness. Only for incoming and local calls though.

I will always have
By iFX on 12/20/2007 4:37:54 PM , Rating: 1
A POTS line in my house. I don't give my cell # out to anyone but family, friends and coworkers. Everyone else gets the POTS line, and I generally don't answer it. If you need me, leave a message and I will get back to you, if I deem you important enough. I also have a cheapo dial up Internet service that I keep in case my 10 mbps cable connection takes a dump for any reason.

RE: I will always have
By aos007 on 12/20/2007 6:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. I don't have voice mail on my cell (big savings) but I have a cheap answering machine on my POTS which doesn't have a caller ID (more savings) and which I never answer. If I recognize the caller leaving the message, I pick up, otherwise...

Definition of "Landline"
By ninjit on 12/20/2007 2:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
It seems that from the other comments on here, some people are taking "landline" to mean the physical cable running to your house.
Others are taking it to mean the voice service that's provided over the wire.
I think this is what the article is referring to, since it's compared to cellular voice services.

The "Landline" in this sense IS dying, and the phone companies know this - that's why they now offer 'naked' DSL because people don't want to pay for phone service just to get broadband when they only really use their cellphones.

In this sense, the traditional phone companies are becoming more like your cable company - they have some kind of physical line to your house (be it twisted-pair, optical-fibre, or coaxial-cable), over which they provide you with a variety of service options:

TV (regular)
On-demand/payperview/interactive TV
Voice (likely to be over-IP these days, as in FiOS or Cable)
Broadband Internet

If Wi-Max ever takes off, (and has enough bandwidth to compete), we may end up with a 3rd provider too; who's pipe to your house is over-the-air (OTA).

Similarly if satellite services ever develop a viable uplink system (downlink bandwidth is already pretty decent) that can be deployed easily in dense residential areas, then we would have a 4th competitor too.

Personally the biggest benefit I see from this migration is more competition in TV services for the cable companies: Broadband is already pretty cheap here in the US, because we have DSL vs. Cable; but as for TV the cable companies still essentially have a monopoly, Satellite DTV is making inroads, but adoption is slow, and I think the public would be more willing to try TV service from their local phone company, whom they are already familiar with.

Not going to happen in my lifetime
By 9nails on 12/20/2007 8:58:28 PM , Rating: 2
You won't catch me using a cell phone around the house as long as my trusty old copper land line is still just $10 a month for unlimited local calls with caller-ID, 3-way calling, and call waiting. When Cellular comes down in price then I might agree with the article. But I can't imagine the day when telco's lower the price for their cell service! To make this happen, cellular service needs to become commoditized; packaged with free broadband services for the wireless phone(s), free voicemail and free shared lines between handsets, and then I might be able to see this picture of utopia. Until then, I just find this article as a bunch of useless words that sound nice when put together and have no bearing in reality.

uhh dont think so
By meepstone on 12/20/2007 10:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
Land lines wont die because every business needs a phone for customers to call. Would be a very bad business model without a land line. they will never die.

By NullSubroutine on 12/21/2007 7:20:30 AM , Rating: 2
VOIP are great services they are pretty cheap and at times you can take them to different locations.

However, as a 911 operator I feel people need to pay more attention to their service. VOIP services are way behind in location/mapping for 911 calls. Typically we cannot get any location and sometimes cant even get a phone number.

With land lines our mapping software pops up the mapping location almost instantly with all information. With cell phones they depend on how new the model is and the type of service in the area. If it is a newer phone that has what is called Phase 2 it allows for sometime (stress sometimes) instant location within a few meters (the cell phone itself has GPS location installed per US federal law).

If the phone has normal phase 1 capabilities (older phones) we can sometimes get a location after we do what are called ANI/ALI requests, which can take minutes or not at all (though it is possible but not as accurate).

The point is if you have an emergency espcially at your home, the landline is the best, because even if you dial as long as it rings we will still get the number and location. If you can't talk we still know where you are.

Cell phones are better (newer ones do allow for better tracking) but if you are cut off before we get a 'lock' we may not be able to find where you are. This is compounded because some people do not get service in their homes because they live near hospitals, airports, rural areas, or places where signal is poor.

VOIP are the worse as there are times we can hear bad things happening but unless the person knows where they are and can say it, we cant do anything.

If you care about yourself or your family please keep a landline if for nothing else but 911 service! There is nothing more frustrating for emergency workers to know there is a problem but not have a location to send help!

All your eggs...
By tmouse on 12/21/2007 9:01:23 AM , Rating: 2
I personally feel it is always better to not keep all of your eggs in the same basket. I have several associates who have dropped land line service for their cells, and others who rely on cable for all of their services. It’s just a bad idea in my opinion, then again in the boonies I only pay about $19 a month with unlimited local calling so the cost in minimal. I have cable for my data, my land line and my cell so I figure if I'm ever in a situation where all 3 are out I will probably have alot more problems than just communication.

By JonnyDough on 12/21/2007 6:22:31 PM , Rating: 1
I have an AT&T landline because...

I had a $180 cell phone bill a few years ago.

I don't like annoying cell phone ring tones (especially really annoying "songs" that shouldn't be considered music).

I don't like people driving and talking on their cells.

I don't like people, or technology. I'm Amish (God typed this for me). Don't hate or discriminate. Making fun of human nature based on groups of them is ok though.

I don't like people talking on cell phones loudly in public places.

I don't want to be one of "those" cell-phone people.

I wanted cable, but Comcast won't spend the $5-10K on stretching it 20 yards to the road I live on and there is no other company to compete with them in my area, thanks to current legislation.

AT&T is also the only company servicing my area. Again, legislation.

I blame Uncle Sam. Is it just me or is this a standard occurrence?

Uncle Sam and the ridiculous way that people use cell phones are the reasons why I have an AT&T landline. Why I didn't just say that to begin with I don't know, but in my defense, it's probably the government's fault.

By Spivonious on 12/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Vonage
By Rage187 on 12/20/2007 12:45:55 PM , Rating: 1
[q]In 2006 Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones were counted as land lines, while this year they will be counted separately, something that may further cut into land line's numbers.

RE: Vonage
By Spivonious on 12/20/2007 12:47:34 PM , Rating: 1
Doh! I guess I should read the whole article next time.

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