Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1/5 of homes are cell phone only

Including my home. Including my sister's home. Why pay two bills? Unless you must have an analog line for business purposes, like a fax machine.

For the first time, the number of U.S. households opting for only cell phones outnumber those with only traditional landlines in a high-tech shift accelerated by the recession.

In the freshest evidence of the growing appeal of cell phones, 20 percent of households had only cells during the last half of 2008, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Wednesday. That was an increase of nearly 3 percentage points over the first half of the year, the largest six-month increase since the government started gathering such data in 2003.

The 20 percent of homes with only cell phones compared to 17 percent with landlines but no cells.

That ratio has changed starkly in recent years: In the first six months of 2003, just 3 percent of households were wireless only, while 43 percent stuck to landlines.

Stephen Blumberg, senior scientist at the CDC and an author of the report, attributed the growing number of cell-only households in part to a recession that has forced many families to scour their budgets for savings.

"We do expect that with the recession, we'd see an increase in the prevalence of wireless only households, above what we might have expected had there been no recession," Blumberg said.

Further underscoring the public's shrinking reliance on landline phones, 15 percent of households have both landlines and cells but take few or no calls on their landlines, often because they are wired into computers. Combined with wireless only homes, that means that 35 percent of households — more than one in three — are basically reachable only on cells.

The changes are important for pollsters, who for years relied on reaching people on their landline telephones. Growing numbers of surveys now include calls to people on their cells, which is more expensive partly because federal laws forbid pollsters from using computers to place calls to wireless phones.

2012 elections or even 2010 elections may not be that correct in its polling. I still say evidence of this was 2008. All those young folk were not land line users, they got their information from the Obama Campaign via text messaging. And who showed up to the polls, many first time voters? Young folks.


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