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
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,
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.