Have You Gone Cellphone Only?

Money magazine tells us that a 2006 study reveals about one in eight American adults (26 million) live in households with no land line — they rely solely on a mobile phone. This is up dramatically versus three years earlier when only 2.9 percent had no fixed line. And in the next five years, nearly one in three U.S. households says they’ll cut the cord. — FREE MONEY FINANCE

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  1. JKinNYC says:

    I have a cellphone and vonage. Does vonage (which I can take with me) count as a landline?

  2. MPHinPgh says:

    I’d be curious to see how these results break down once age is factored in. I’m 43, so I still have this attachment (irrational though it may be) to my landline, because that’s ALL I had growing up and even into my early 30’s.

    I’m betting that the youger types (who may have had cell-phones since they were early teens) have no such attachment.

    Just a thought…

  3. ltlbbynthn says:

    I think landlines will die out as the new generation gets older. Phones will be attached to a person rather than a location.

  4. mattatwork says:

    I think “cut the cord” might miss a bigger cause: People never getting landlines.

    I’m just a couple years out of college, and nobody I know has ever even though about getting a landline for their house. More importantly than existing consumers dropping landlines, “new” adults are never getting one.

  5. Ickypoopy says:

    I currently have only a landline. And coming up on November 13th, Comcast sees fit to discontinue my service whether I like it or not. I am seriously considering abandoning telephones all together at that point.

    How neccesary are phones today? I have internet access and can probably make do with Skype using Skype out or a similar application.

  6. emona says:

    I have a cell and a DSL line, which is technically a landline though I voted cell phone only. I don’t have an actual handset hooked up to the phone jack. My apologies for throwing the poll.

    Not that I ever actually answer my cell phone…

  7. jaredutah says:

    I also have VOIP. My internet, phone, and television all come over one fiber optic line.

  8. ElizabethD says:

    9/11 cell service meltdown, anyone?

  9. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @ltlbbynthn: I only have a landline because I barely get cell service in my home. If the service improved, I’d be cellphone only.

  10. Rupan says:

    @mattatwork: I agree with you.

    When I first moved out on my own a few years ago I got a landline becuase it was the thing to do. After a year I realized that I never used it. everyone called my cell phone and the landline just sat there. I canceled it and never looked back.

    I also think number portability really helped the push to cell phone only. People were always afraid to give up their landline because it was the only number they had ever used. Now they can keep that number and no one is the wiser that it has been switched to a cell phone.

  11. mopar_man says:


    I’m in a similar situation. I have a landline but only for DSL. There’s a phone hooked up although it’s rarely used. I’m unfortunately using AT&T for my DSL and I’m hoping I can get the naked DSL and do away with a landline altogether.

  12. Squeezer99 says:

    naked dsl + cellphone for the win

  13. mandarin says:

    I have mental powers….

  14. stpauliegirl says:

    My husband and I cut the cord about four years ago when we both had cell phones and a shared land line, the latter of which only rang with wrong numbers. We realized we were paying $60 a month to repeatedly tell people that the business formerly connected to the number was out of business and said funk that.

    @ElizabethD: We had a slight service meltdown on 8/1/07 in the Twin Cities area, but everyone that called me was eventually able to get through, and most of my calls connected after one or two tries. It’s a temporary inconvenience but still not worth the price of a land line.

  15. Squeezer99 says:

    quarterly, you can if you are in an area that was serviced by bellsouth. call them up, ask for bundle 97.

  16. SeattleGuy says:

    I too have cell phones and Vonage. The only reason I have Vonage is to be able to call my children who live in Italy. If it were not for the free calling to landlines in Italy I wouldn’t have it at all.

  17. rmz says:

    Cell only, and I’ve had no problems or inconveniences arise from it yet.

  18. Steel_Pelican says:

    I’d like to see a similar study about how many of us “new adults” are abandoning snail mail as well. I use maybe 10 stamps a year, and only for things that absolutely not be done electronically.

    @ElizabethD: Landlines can die, too- relying on any technology to get yourself out of an emergency is the first mistake. Just because it’s an older technology doesn’t mean it has any better of a chance at saving your life.

  19. lincolnparadox says:

    @stpauliegirl: This poll is kind of fortuitous, because I just canceled my Qwest landline yesterday. I figured out the I was paying $48 a month (the cheapest plan they had plus taxes/fees) so that my parents could leave messages on my answering machine, so that companies could cold call me to buy their junk, and so that I could hook up my ReplayTV modem. So, I set up my cell phone voice-mailbox for my folks, hooked my DVR up to my cable modem and dropped Qwest.

    And it’s a good feeling.

  20. UpsetPanda says:

    Cell only here. Cell phone plans are so expensive, why add to the cost by getting a landline?

  21. jpp123 says:

    I have both – but only because I can’t get naked DSL

  22. JMH says:

    I’ve been land-line free since ~2001. Never an issue except the two times I’ve had problems with my cell phone, but there are enough AT&T stores out there that it isn’t a problem to go to one if need be.

  23. rdm says:

    I’ve been cell only for over 6 years. I had Vonage for a brief stint but just for business purposes when I worked from home :).

    Yes, sometimes it’s a pain, but not enough of a pain to warrant another bill in the form of a landline. I think “9/11 meltdown” was an exception rather than the rule.

  24. Had to get a landline for the first time in years this summer when I moved into a building that required one to buzz visitors in.

  25. BuddhaLite says:

    I still have a landline but am considering TMobiles Hotspot@Home which is $20/month and won’t eat up my cell minutes.

  26. boandmichele says:

    i am a bigger nerd than most of you all, and i hate cell phones. and i hate people who love cell phones.

    and god help you if you try to talk about sim cards to me.

  27. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    Going landline-free, this month. When I added up the cost of landline plus dialup-ISP and realized that I could get cable internet for half the cost, the decision really made itself.

    Luckily, I have good neighbors with landlines and live in a very urban setting. Finding a landline in an emergency would be a snap.

  28. welsey says:

    Most people I know, that is college students living in cheap apartments or houses, only have cell phones. No one wants to pay an extra bill for a phone nobody is going to call! We were just talking about this in one of my classes, actually.

    The only time I’ve ever wanted one was for phone card purposes – my boyfriend lives overseas and you get a lot more minutes when you use a card with a landline vs. a mobile – but we use Skype most of the time so it works out.

  29. Buran says:

    @Ickypoopy: Why are they doing that?

  30. emona says:

    @Squeezer99: Dallas is AT&T, I’m afraid. If naked DSL can save me actual money, I’d switch to that. I admit I haven’t looked into it much.

  31. EtherealStrife says:

    Ditto @ the landline for dsl folks. I technically have both, but only for dsl. Important calls use the cell. Most of my communication is by email or aim.

    @Steel_Pelican: Stamps and checks…things of the past. :) Except for rebates.

  32. Buran says:

    @boandmichele: I bet you don’t have a lot of friends left, then, and hate everyone you know.

  33. freshyill says:

    I technically have a landline, but I voted cellphone only, since Verizon forces us to have it for their slow-ass DSL. The ringer is off and I couldn’t even tell you the number of the landline. I would have actually been in that 2.9% three years ago. Why the hell would I pay for a landline if I already have a phone that goes with me?

  34. Anitra says:

    I’ve been cellphone-only for about 3.5 years. The last landline I had was when I lived with roommates (moved out spring of 2004) – I eventually realized that I wasn’t home very often and they weren’t very good at taking messages.

    I don’t use it much, but I use it more than I would a landline phone.

  35. LAGirl says:

    we have cell phones + a landline. we never use it for calls, i don’t even give out the number. i’d love to get rid of it, but we need it for DirecTV and our alarm system.

  36. brookeln says:

    The only reason I have a landline is because it came as part of my cable package. I never use it and would not have one otherwise. Before this, though, I was cellphone only for several years.

  37. royal72 says:

    my fiance and i got rid of our cell phone leashes about half a year ago and only have a landline, which barely gets used. ah the joy of freedom. between the landline, work phones, and internet everywhere, we have plenty of communication.

  38. SimonSwegles says:

    My wife and I both have cellphones for less than the amount we were spending monthly on our landline and long distance. Landline-free since ~2000. It is quite a relief to know that if the phone rings it is almost assuredly going to be a call I want, and not some telemarketing firm.

  39. jaredgood1 says:

    I only have a cell phone and only take it out of the house on long car trips (over 3 hours).

  40. boandmichele says:

    @Buran: just about. :) im pretty intolerant of things i find to be inefficient or wasteful. also ripoffs. therefore you could say im against the whole cell industry.

    *sigh* i wasnt always this way. i was one of the first kids in school with a cell phone, 6th grade, and im now 24. go figure.

  41. UpsetPanda says:

    @LAGirl: Seriously, they require that you have a landline for DirecTV? That sucks. I was thinking of subscribing but I don’t have a landline and I’m not quite sure I’d like to just to get satellite.

  42. Charles Duffy says:

    I can think of one good reason for having a POTS connection: Faxing.

    Faxes have special legal status (they’re assumed to be secure, whereas email and such isn’t, and thus can be used for medical records and other such miscellany) — but only if they go over POTS; T.37 and T.38-based faxing doesn’t count.

    My household has a POTS line, but only because my brother-in-law pays for it; his stated reason is to have a backup connectivity mechanism should our cable modem die.

  43. myuu says:

    @MissJ: Yeah, you need the line so you can buy PPV stuff.

    Anyways it’s most definitely land lines will be phased out.

  44. thepounder says:

    Yeah… if it weren’t for my job I’d never have a cell phone. They’re just not that important. If someone needs me, call my damn house phone and leave a message. Not everything needs to be tended to immediately.
    That, and my work cell service is crappy out in the country where I live, so it’s nearly a moot point to begin with.
    Also, on the house phone I’ve gone retro — Custom Phones
    Got me a pink rotary phone with an actual bell ringer.
    Those iPhones have no idea what cool really is. ;)

    Plus, I plug in my house phone and, oh my God, it just works. I don’t recall ever seeing and old Model 500 rotary phone “brick”.

  45. Frapp says:

    I use both a Landline and a Cell Phone. My fiance’s father has some disabilities, so having the landline available to him if he needs either of us keeps the worry down.

  46. hn333 says:

    I have no friends, so no need for phone

  47. 5cents says:

    Hmmm, so the majority of Consumerist readers have only a cellphone. Interesting stuff.

  48. upokyin says:

    The thought of using a pay phone today grosses me out, even though I would have thought nothing of it when I was growing up. And it seems like half the time the phones don’t work. Have pay phones gotten worse–in terms of reliability and hygiene–as they have become less profitable for companies to maintain?

  49. jesirose says:

    @boandmichele: How is a phone that you can carry around with you inefficient? Cells make phone conversations MORE efficient. No calling 5 locations to try to find the one person you want, you just call that person’s cell. Also, you can’t call a tow truck from the side of the road with a landline…etc.

  50. UpsetPanda says:

    @myuu: I know thats what the website said, but what if I never want to order PPV stuff? I’ve never ordered PPV in my life, if I don’t intend to, do they still make you have a landline?

  51. I only have a cell phone because
    1) of the hate for Bell South
    2) it’s expensive to have both a cell and a land line
    3) given the choice I’d rather be able to call for help where ever I happen to be

  52. maryrules says:

    When I moved to a new city last fall, I got a friend of mine who woks for my local Telco to crunch the numbers and getting only a cell worked out to be slightly cheaper than getting only a land line, so that’s what I did. And I have not gotten a single telemarketing call since I made the switch.

  53. Ickypoopy says:

    They are “discontinuing” the level of service I have. If I do not switch to a “current” (read: more expensive) phone service, they are going to terminate my service as of November 13th.

    I’m not the only one, they are doing it nationwide. I don’t know why its not getting more attention.

  54. amoeba says:

    I must have a cellphone besides my landline. I get phone calls from my “clients” (So funny, I am still not used to that word) or “new clients” for meetings and/or showing my portfolio with my art work when I am not at home. If I can afford both, I will have both, or in other hand I will cut my services with Qwest telephone services. Sometimes I call my relatives in England, it is much cheaper to use my landline…

  55. krom says:

    Payphone? What’s a payphone? I paid for my phone, does that count?

    But seriously, we have an unlimited LD plan on our landline, which beats any cell plan. This is great for when the teenager needs to call the whole town (and sometimes country) and talk all night. Plus, it makes for cheaper DSL.

    Landline is also very useful when the power goes out for 4 days straight as it did out here in Seattle area this past winter. Especially after the cell towers’ backup generators (apparently) ran out. Sure, we had to dig a standalone (i.e. non-cordless) phone out of the closet, but it worked.

  56. Synaptic Reload says:

    Having at least a land-line in your permanent residence is a good idea since you can have a non-powered phone still work if the power in your neighborhood goes down, since enough power flows over the phone line to make calls (assuming the phone company still has power, which it should). Also in an emergency it’s nice to be able to have a phone in every room rather than stumble around in a panic for your cell or wireless.

    Also, just for info, land-line to me means a dedicated phone line, not VoIP. But that’s just my personal definition.

  57. stpauliegirl says:

    @krom: My parents just got unlimited LD on their land line. I didn’t even know it was being offered. Most of my parents’ family (including me) lives outside their local calling area, so they’re lovin’ it.

  58. InThrees says:

    I have not had a landline in some 8 years, I think. 5 through 8 years ago I used my then-roommate’s cellphone whenever I needed to make a call. 5 years ago I got my own cellphone and moved to a new city.

  59. hoo_foot says:

    I only have a landline and have no intention of ever buying a cell phone. I don’t understand the need to be constantly connected to others. To me, it seems more like a leash than a convenience.

    If I ever have an employer who requires me to have a cell, then they can foot the bill for it.

    Bonus: Not only that, but I rarely use my cordless phone at my house. Calls sound much more clear through the phone with the cord, so I prefer using it for important calls. This phone is also amazingly useful during power outages.

  60. Buran says:

    @Ickypoopy: And they aren’t grandfathering you? Normally you get the current rate … until you change something. Hope you drop them for not doing the right thing.

  61. yg17 says:

    For the most part, I’m cell phone only. I’m at college and renting a house, and we have a landline here (included in rent) that my roommates use occasionally, but the only time I use it is when the phone rings and I’m nearest to it (which isn’t often either). But I use my cell phone for everything, so I’m cell only. The landline doesn’t have long distance service (most of my family and friends are long distance). And for local numbers, using it means getting off my lazy ass, going into the living room, grabbing the cordless phone, and coming back to my room. Whereas using my cell phone means moving my hand about 6 inches away from my mouse and grabbing it.

    When I’m out on my own, I have no intention of getting a landline. I never come close to using up all my cell minutes each month. And if I ever do, depending on usage, I’d either up my plan or get Vonage or something like that. I refuse to give AT&T my money and they’re the only landline provider around here.

  62. randombob says:

    I HAD cellphone only, then went to landline. Because of cost. I’m paying $40 a month for a landline with all the goodies & unlimited minutes, no matter when I call. For a cellphone plan for me & my fiancé, to duplicate that – or at least come close enough with enough anytime minutes – you have to shell out $80-90. We DO have cellphones though I voted landline only, but we use them only for emergencies, paying like $7 both both lines (prepaid Virgin Mobile) per month.

    I just can’t understand why so many people throw so much money away on cellphone plans unnecessarily. At one point it made sense for me and I’m sure it still makes sense for some, but….

    such a high number? I think people are just paying the premium to be cool a lil’ bit. For us, $60 is cheaper than $100, and what’s especially cool is it’s cheaper AND better quality. hooray!

  63. bonzombiekitty says:

    Cellphone only. Landline is a waste for me. My family is all long distance, and they have the same carrier so my calls to them are totally free when I call their cellphone, most of my friends have the same carrier as well. On top of that, I don’t use the phone enough to spend a bunch of money on it. The lowest price plan from my provider gives me more than enough minutes for the month. Having a land line with long distance would be roughly the same cost. I’d rather have the cell phone than the land line phone, since it’s more convenient.

  64. bonzombiekitty says:

    @hoo_foot: Personally, I think it’s convenient. Running late for something? Lost and need directions? No need to look around for a pay phone. Waiting for an important call? No need to be stuck inside all day waiting for it. Car breaks down on the side of the road? No need to walk or wait for someone to come by. Plus there’s other things you can do, like have Google Calendar send you a text message as a reminder of something you have to do which is good for people like me that easily forget stuff.

    I personally don’t buy the argument that it’s a leash. Don’t want to be in contact? Leave it at home or turn it off.

    note: Not a shill for cellphones. I don’t think they are a necessity, but they are extremely convenient.

  65. Canadian Impostor says:

    I get a landline for free with my cable tv and internet, it’s cheaper to take the phone service than to not take the service.

    I don’t know the number and I don’t own any devices to plug into the phone jack.

  66. kris in seattle says:

    My roommate and I rent a house and our landlords have to have a landline phone for insurance purposes. However, we both mainly use our cell phones and hardly ever use the house phone.

  67. Starfury says:

    I’ve always had a landline. I’m 40 and that’s what was at my parents house, apartment, and now my house. I will not cancel it because the cost is low, if I ever have to dial 911 they’ll see my address on the screen, and if the power goes out they still work. I do have a cell, but don’t want that to be my only communication method. Living in Calif if there is an earthquake cell towers could be down and then I’d really be stuck.

  68. mst3kzz says:

    @EtherealStrife: I hear that, the only time I see a check or stamp is when I am submitting or receiving a rebate (with the exception of a couple of bills that charge to pay online).

  69. Mary says:

    I only had a cell phone until I realized I could lower my cable bill by $30 a month by signing up for the package deal that came with a land line. So now I have a landline. But I don’t have a decent phone to hook up to it, so I never use it.

  70. cornish says:

    @Ickypoopy: “How neccesary are phones today?”
    Speaking only for myself, they’re darned important. I work in disaster services and being able to be reached is a necessity. When the cellphone networks fail, I have land-line backup. When that fails, there’s trunked radio, backed up by RACES/ARES, which in turn are backed up by runners and legal pads.

    Granted, that’s the extreme. 99.9% of the time, when the call comes in the Internet is up and running, but my using cellphones and landlines I’m not tied to a computer. Technology should free us, not shackle us. For some, I carry an electronic leash, but for me it allows me to live my life and still remain responsive.

  71. FLConsumer says:

    Where’s VoIP in the list? Cell + VoIP here. There’s a landline here, but it’s paid for by my insurance co and goes to the alarm system. e911 works fine with my VoIP setup and if all else fails, everything reverts back to the landline, but that’s not happened thus far.

  72. sibertater says:

    I have only had a cellphone for the last 7 years until we moved into this apartment. It has a door buzzer system and we need to be able to buzz people in when they come visit or deliver food! Since we have out of state phone numbers on our cell phones and we didn’t want to change them, we opted for a $10 a month landline.