Telecom Milestone: More Cell Phone-Only Than Landline-Only Households

September 14, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Telecom | Youth & Gen X

The United States has passed a milestone in telecommunications history: Cell-phone-only households now outnumber landline-only households, according to (pdf) Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI), which released the findings via its “The Birth of a Cellular Nation” whitepaper.

MRI conducts approximately 26,000 in-home, in-person interviews yearly with US adults, collecting data in two “waves” of interviews with 13,000 respondents.

The landline-only population has been larger than the cell-only population since MRI first began measuring cell phone use in 2000, and as of March-October 2006 the cell-only households constituted 12.4% of the population, compared with 14.5% of landline-only.

In the most current wave (fielded from September 2006 to April 2007), those positions were reversed, with the cell-only segment rising to 14.0% and the landline-only population dropping to 12.3%:

“This milestone is a consequence of two trends – a steepening decline since 2000 in the percentage of households with any landline, accompanied by a rapid rise in the number of households with at least one cell phone,” said Andrew Arthur, VP of MRI’s Market Solutions division and the author of the whitepaper.

Some 84.5% of people now have now have landlines in their households, while 86.2% now have at least one cell phone, according to MRI data:


Young consumers, particularly those who live on their own, dominate the burgeoning cell-only population.

“Logic would suggest that single-person households have less need for a landline. And, of course, fewer income-earners to pay for one,” said Arthur. “The economic and practical realities faced by people living alone tend to force a choice between the two technologies and the numbers are particularly striking at the young end of the spectrum.”

Nearly six of ten 18-24 year-olds – 57.1% – who live in single-person households are now cell-only; that’s four times more likely than the adult average to be cell-only:


The whitepaper is available via MRI.


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