At current rates, all US landlines will have been disconnected by 2025. Around 25% of homes have cut the cord already, and around 10% are cancelling the service annually - some 700,000 disconnections a month. Despite poor coverage in many areas, there is growing confidence in the availability and reliability of the cellphone service.
Some landlines have simply switched to lower cost VoIP.
Unlike many other countries, most Americans get their broadband internet service through their cable provider. They may also be using a VoIP service, such as Vonage, as a replacement. In many other countries, wired broadband service is only available via DSL for which a voice landline service must be included - there is no cable or so-called "naked DSL" alternative available.
If the telephone network in New York State were a stand-alone business, it would already be in bankruptcy. In recent years it has lost 40% of its landlines and revenues have dropped by more than 30%.
But many now rely on their cellphones
But many have migrated to use their cellphones. Call plans with a large or unlimited number of minutes encourage the transition – having paid the monthly fee, all additional calls are effectively free. Amongst the drivers for this move include:
- Calls being made directly to individuals, not shared locations
- More chance of being connected, because calls can be made/received when away from home
- Calls diverting to personal voicemail
- Ability to send/receive text messages
- Financial savings from using one phone service rather than two
Cellphone use exceeds landline since 2002
This Yankee group report from 2003 confirmed that US cellphone users had by then already made more minutes of call wirelessly than on their landlines. It forecast that “cord cutters” would grow from being a small percentage of the population.
Even printed newspapers have a more optimistic outlook than landlines - they aren't forecast to become extinct until 2043 (at current rates).
Wired Broadband takeup continues to grow
At the same time, broadband internet penetration continues to rise. Higher speeds are available too, through uVerse, DOCSIS 3 cable and FiOS. This study reports over 93% of US homes and 98.4% of workers are now connected by broadband, although the average data rate per user lags behind many other countries. With this in mind, using this almost ubiquitous broadband to improve the quality and coverage of wireless voice services in homes across the US is quite feasible.
Growing reliance on the mobile smartphone will increase demand for higher quality and availability. Where femtocells have been used in domestic customers, there are reports of great improvements in voice quality and fewer occurances of those annoying missed calls. The combination of femtocells and wired broadband advances the transition to mobile only service takeup, encouraging the customer to remain with the same mobile network vendor.
Hence another good reason why femtocells are likely to be in demand, ensuring highest voice quality.