The End of the Land Line

Soon, the land line may go the way of the rotary phone.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCWashington.com
    Hey, folks, remember rotary phones?

    A new study shows that right now half of twenty-somethings still use landlines, though for what reason, no one can say.

    But the days of the land-locked telephone are clearly numbered. It's increasingly in decline, and may disappear withing a decade or two. Want proof? Just try to explain to a teenager why they would want a telephone that only works if it's attached to a wall and can't be moved more than a couple of feet. And don't get them started on "phone books," gigantic heavy printouts of ads that are out-of-date as soon as they arrive.

    Overall, about a quarter of U.S. homes have no land line, which is up dramatically from just a few years prior. Those numbers include households with children, which came as a surprise to researchers. Previously, it was assumed that only unattached young adults went without the old-fashioned land line.

    In many households, the land line is used exclusively for Internet.

    These new findings could spell trouble for political pollsters, who often exclude cellphones from their surveys. In recent years, that's resulted in a trend of under-counting younger voters in polls. Fortunately, most young people don't vote.

    In contrast, a diminishing number of homes have no cellphone. Just 13 percent rely on land lines alone. Two percent have no phone service at all, which actually sounds kind of blissful.