Slate says that growth of wireless phone customers in America combined with a bad economy has helped initiate an historic shift in how we think about landlines—specifically, they’re no longer considered an essential utility by a large portion of the population:
But in this first real slowdown of the wireless age, consumers seem to be saying that home-based telephones are expendable luxuries, like Starbucks lattes or Coach handbags. And it makes sense. Confronted with high inflation, soaring energy costs, and stagnant wages, millions of households are facing choices about which monthly bills to pay and which commitments to maintain. And if it comes down to one or the other, the mobile or the home-based land line, it’s clear which is a necessity and which is an option.
It’s not just tight budgets, though. Slate speculates that foreclosures are also having an effect, because as people move into rentals or in with relatives, they shut off existing landlines and don’t bother reconnecting.
I haven’t had a traditional landline since 2002. At first I moved to Vonage, then a DIY SIP setup that I never could get working correctly. Finally I realized it was both cheaper and simpler to just forego a home line entirely.