January 17, 2017 Last Updated 1:55 pm

More than half of US households now cellphone-only, businesses are catching on, as well

A number of media companies are deciding that when the time comes to move the office, landlines will not be part of the decor any longer, not with cellphones so ubiquitous

The press release below would have passed me by unnoticed had I not had a conversation on this subject early this morning – but with a twist, we were talking about businesses that have gone cellphone-only.

According to a GfK MRI Survey, now more than half of US adults live in households that depend exclusively on cellphones rather than landlines. I know, this doesn’t surprise you. You might have cut the landline cord long ago. I bet the number, 52 percent, is even higher when you consider that at some of those households that still have “landlines” really don’t, they are VOIP phones that a few years ago wouldn’t have been consider in the same category as the old AT&T line. (Though maybe GfK is considering bundled services as cellphone only, it is hard to tell.)

But the trend is spreading to offices, as well.

A friend of mine has had their company move their Chicago office from the Loop to River North and decided to skip the traditional step of calling the phone company to have them hook them up. No one in sales in their company is without a cellphone, and by skipping the landline option they actually make it easier for their reps to decide what phone number to give out to their clients. And because they go on the road often, they don’t have to remember to forward their phones, or play with an app to do so, they know that anytime a customer calls it will be to their cellphones.

The downside is obvious: reps are on duty 24 hours a day, but my friend feels they are anyway, so the lack of an office landline doesn’t change anything for them. It does make creating a voice mail answering message a little tricky, though.

Here is the release on the new survey on cellphones and landlines:


NEW YORK, NY – January 17, 2017 — More than half (52%) of US adults live in households with cellphones but no landline telephones, according to the latest GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer. That represents a doubling of the percentage since 2010, when it was 26%.

The proportion of senior citizens (ages 65+) in cellphone-only households quadrupled over the past six years, to 23%, while the figure for Millennials (born from 1977 to 1994) climbed to 71% from 47%.

The findings come from GfK MRI’s Fall 2016 Survey data release, which is based on interviews with approximately 24,000 US adults ages 18 and above.

After Millennials, Generation X (born 1965 to 1976) is the age group most likely to live in cell-only households, at 55%. By comparison, the figure for Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) is only four in 10 (40%).

Wide differences among ethnicities/races

Among ethnic and racial groups, adults of Hispanic or Latino origin or descent have the highest incidence of living free of landline telephones, with 67% reporting cell-only status. Other groups have roughly 50% incidence – with Asian Americans at 54%; whites, 51%; and African Americans, 50%.

Looking across regions of the US, the Northeast has the smallest concentration of cellphone-only households, at 39%. In other regions, levels of no-landline homes range from 53% (Midwest) to 57% (South).

“The Northeast’s lower incidence of cell-only households is likely related to its high levels of bundled television, Internet, landline, and cellphone services,” said Risa Becker, SVP of Research Operations at GfK MRI. “In other regions, we see a stronger trend toward cutting the telephone cord.”

GfK MRI data show that a full 57% of Northeast homes have bundled data and TV services (a combination of two or more of TV, Internet, and telephone service), versus 49% in the South and even less elsewhere.

GfK MRI’s unmatched consumer database is derived from continuous interviews with approximately 24,000 US adults each year. As part of The Survey of the American Consumer, respondents record their consumption of some 6,500 products in nearly 600 categories and provide details about their lifestyles and attitudes.


Photo-above: Type Writer old phone by Glen Edelson
Photo-homepage: Telephone switchboard activated at the new St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, 1954 from the Elgin County Archives
Both used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Comments are closed.