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Personal Technology Resource Center


Most U.S. Households Do Without Landline Phones

But older Americans are slower than younger people to cut the cord

Scissors cut the cord of a wired phone

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More than half of U.S. households had only wireless service during the first half of 2017.

The use of landline telephones has been dwindling since the dawn of mobile phones, as more and more Americans rely entirely on wireless devices. Last year appears to have been a tipping point, when the wireless-only trend reached a majority of U.S. households, a federal report shows.

More than half of homes (52.5 percent) had only wireless service during the first half of 2017, according to a compilation of data by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). That was an increase of 3.2 percentage points since the first half of 2016.

But most older households are clinging to their landlines, the numbers indicate, and the share of adults living with only wireless phones diminishes with age. The wireless-only rate for those of ages 18 to 24 was 64.2 percent; for those 35 to 44 it was 63.9 percent; for those 45 to 64 it was 47.1 percent; and for those 65 and older it was 23.9 percent.

“Compared with adults living in landline households, wireless-only adults were more likely to have experienced financial barriers to obtaining needed health care, and they were less likely to have a usual place to go for medical care,” NCHS reported while summarizing the findings.

The share of households living without telephone service, wireless or landline, has increased significantly over the past three years, from 2.6 percent in the first half of 2014 to 3.7 percent in the first half of 2017.