Landlines Become Outdated as Americans Go Cellphone-Only

April 22, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015
Landlines becoming outdated? US President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, while on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, from the White House in Washington, May 20, 2009. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Landlines becoming outdated? US President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, while on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, from the White House in Washington, May 20, 2009. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Landlines, like black-and-white televisions, are becoming symbols of a generation that has gone by in the United States.

A new Center for Disease Control and Prevention study released on Wednesday shows that 27 percent of American households in the first half of 2010 went landline-free as they relied on their mobile phones for communication. The figure is eight times higher than just six years ago.

Young people, renters, and low-income families who want to save money are most likely to go cellphone-only.

“Today, an ever-increasing number of adults have chosen to use wireless telephones rather than landline telephones to make and receive calls,” said the study, which projects that the mobile-only trend will continue to grow.

Based on data collected between January 2007 and June 2010 from the National Health Interview Survey, the study shows that at least 30 percent of adults in 10 states rely entirely on cellphones, with the highest number in Arkansas and Mississippi, where many families cannot afford two separate phone lines.

The prevalence of cellphone-only adults varied substantially across states. About 35 percent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have only cellphones, while New Jersey and Rhode Island have the smallest proportion of adults depending just on cellphones at only 13 percent.

Among all 50 states, Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation at 21.9 percent in 2009, according to the Census Bureau. Arkansas is at 18.8 percent, while the average national rate is 14.3 percent.

The CDC notes that the increasing prevalence of cellphone-only households can harm telephone surveys.

"Many health surveys, political polls, and other research studies are conducted using random-digit-dial telephone surveys," reads the study. "Until recently, these surveys did not include wireless telephone numbers in their samples."