For First Time, More Than Half of US Homes No Longer Have Landline

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It was bound to happen, as more and more Americans owned cell phones or smartphones and wireless broadband became almost universal. Over half of all U.S. homes no longer have a landline.

According to a study from the National Center for Health Statistics division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The second 6 months of 2016 was the first time that a majority of American homes had only wireless telephones. Preliminary results from the July–December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that 50.8% of American homes did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones)—an increase of 2.5 percentage points since the second 6 months of 2015.

The number rises sharply among households that have children. In these cases, “wireless-only” homes make up 60.7% of households. At the other end of the spectrum, only 23.5% of households with people over 65 are wireless only. For the most part, the younger the people in the household, the more likely it is to be wireless only, the report’s authors wrote:

More than seven in ten adults aged 25–29 (72.7%) and aged 30-34 (71.0%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. These rates are greater than the rate for those 18–24 (61.7%). The percentage of adults living with only wireless telephones decreased as age increased beyond 35 years: 62.5% for those 35–44; 45.2% for those 45–64; and 23.5% for those 65 and over.

The growth of wireless subscribers in the United States has been explosive. According to the CTIA, there were 378 million wireless subscriber connections at the end of 2015. This was a 116% penetration of the U.S. population. In 2005, the comparable figure was 208 million, or 69% of the U.S. population. At the end of 2015, its study showed similar penetration rates to those of the CDC research. Wireless-only home penetration was 49.3%, up from 8.4% in 2005.

The report released by the National Center for Health Statistics was based on data gathered from 19,956 households between July and December 2016. The households included 36,828 civilian adults aged 18 and over and 11,437 children under age 18.