Technology

Most US homes have mobiles but no landline

Former US President Barack Obama on the phone, June 2010 Image copyright White House
Image caption The White House is one place landlines are likely to to be found for many years

Less than half of US households now have a landline, according to a study from the US government.

Of the households surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50.8% of homes had at least one mobile phone but no landline.

A further 3.3% of homes surveyed had neither a mobile phone nor a landline.

The CDC found that mobile-only households had become the majority during its twice-yearly survey into the health and habits of Americans.

Representative sample

Participants in the National Health Interview Survey are asked to provide a residential phone number in case the CDC needs to contact them again.

In 2003, it started to ask participating households whether they had "at least one phone inside [the] home that is currently working and is not a cell phone".

Its preliminary data for the second half of 2016 suggests that only 45.9% of households had a landline.

The CDC does not explore the reasons why participants do not have a fixed phone line, if that is the case.

Instead, it uses the data to help ensure it is interviewing a representative sample of the US population.

Shared houses

The CDC says that the number of households without a landline has risen by 2.5% since the same period in 2015.

It suggests that more than 123 million adults (50.5%) and more than 44 million children (60.7%) live in households with at least one mobile phone but no landline.

More than 70% of adults aged 25-34 were found to live in mobile-only homes, while almost 84% of households made up of unrelated adults had no fixed phone line.

Renters, adults deemed to be living in poverty or near-poverty, and Hispanic adults were also found to be more likely to live in mobile-only households.

Cutting the cord

In the UK, the proportion of mobile-only households is much lower.

Figures from the telecoms and communications watchdog, Ofcom, show that at the start of 2017, just 18% of UK households were mobile-only.

The reason, it says, is that despite a steady decline in the quantity of calls made and received via a landline, most homes still need one in order to get fixed line broadband.

Many in the US can get their broadband and TV via a cable provider instead, which removes the need for a traditional phone line.

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