Doubt the Cellular Revolution at Your Own Peril

Data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the latest glimpse into just how fast U.S. households are abandoning landline telephones in favor of going wireless.

We’ll take a look at some of the stark data from the report, but the obvious omen to digest here is the consequence to alarm signal transmission and the business of monitoring.

The CDC “Wireless Substitution” study showed that nearly one in four households has a cell phone but no traditional landline. That number has more than doubled since 2006, the first year the annual study was conducted.

The number of households with both landline and cell service has remained more constant at nearly six in 10, a figure mostly unchanged since the beginning of 2007.

While living conditions and gender all influence whether or not households are wireless-only, the trend — no surprise — is being led by the young. 

The 25- to 29-year-old set are using landlines the least, with almost 49 percent of them living in wireless-only households. The figure drops steadily at age 35 and older, with only about one in 20 people age 65 and older relying only on mobile service.

The latest data, which was taken from 21,375 homes, also discovered that one in seven American households has a landline that is never used.

Here are some other tidbits from the study to chew on:

  •  63 percent of adults living with an unrelated adult but without children had only cells, nearly four times the rate for related adults without children.
  • More than four in 10 renters had only cells, about triple the rate for homeowners.
  • 15 percent of adults in the Northeast had only cell phones, while the figure for those in other parts of the country ranged from 22 to 26 percent.
  • Adults living in poverty were nearly twice as likely as higher income adults to depend solely on a mobile phone.

To put a hard number on it, there are roughly 52 million adults and 19 million children living in homes with no landline telephone, according to the data. Obviously, these numbers are going to increase exponentially.

The ramifications are increasingly ominous for installing security contractors not moving in parallel with the technological and lifestyle changes this report illustrates. Equally exciting, however, are the opportunities that are fast ushering in for those companies willing to seize upon this coming revolution.

Rodney Bosch
Managing Editor

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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