Are Mobile Phones Really Replacing Landlines?

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Brits use their mobile phones at home more than anywhere else, but older people still prefer landlines

New research claims that Brits are becoming so dependent on mobile technology that 95 percent “wouldn’t struggle” without a landline, with many preferring to use their devices for calls and data services while in the home.

Independent mobile research firm RootMetrics says this kind of behaviour is stronger among younger users, with 51 percent of 18-24 year olds claiming that their mobile has already replaced their landline compared to just 17 percent of those aged 55 and over.

For many, smartphones have replaced calculators, calendars, photo albums and cookbooks, with email, social networking, news, photos, online banking and shopping the most popular activities.

Death of the landline

Mobile apps © Macrovector, Shutterstock 2014However, calls and texts remain the most common uses for mobile phones, something which RootMetrics says is contributing to the decline of the landline. However, a third also prefer to use a cellular data connection than their home Wi-Fi network and 13 percent say they use 3G and 4G all the time.

“Despite being called ‘mobiles’ it’s telling that we are now using them most when we are at home as landlines become the exception rather than the rule,” says RootMetrics CEO Bill Moore. “Our mobile phones have become the remote control for our lives, and we are using them for an ever-increasing range of tasks, from second screen viewing, to taking pictures, to doing our banking. Wi-Fi is clearly not the answer to coverage problems, especially since we are using the basic functions of calling and texting most often.”

A similar survey by wireless broadband provider Relish claimed that half of UK consumers ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ used their landline to make calls, but still kept a fixed connection for broadband services.

Business importance

It has been suggested that this growth in mobile use is behind BT’s plans to launch a mobile network and even acquire either EE or O2 as it seeks to offer ‘quad-play’ packages of mobile, broadband, landline and television services to customers.

However it’s worth noting that Vodafone and EE have expanded into fixed services in recent times, while BT’s fibre investments have contributed to a seven percent year on year increase in consumer revenues in its most recent quarterly results.

It’s also unlikely that businesses will scrap their landlines any time soon despite growing use of mobiles in the workplace and the rise of unified communications. A separate report from RootMetrics found that 46 percent of SMBs were losing multiple calls on a daily basis and ranked their landline service above their mobile provider.

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