Will Bundles Slow Voice Line Abandonment?

How soon could half of U.S. homes be mobile-only for voice services? If trends tracked by the National Center for Health Statistics should remain in place, that could happen by about 2020.

Some 41 percent of U.S. households did not buy or use landline phone service in the second half of 2013, according to the latest study by the National Center for Health Statistics.

That represented an increase of 1.6 percentage points since the first half of 2013 and 2.8 percentage points since the second half of 2012.

Should the roughly three percent abandonment rate continue, half of U.S. homes will not have a fixed network voice connection by 2020.

To be sure, if bundling remains as popular as it is at present, it is possible that the rate of abandonment will slow. On the other hand, it also is possible that many of those accounts will essentially be inactive.

At least some customers already have taken that route, buying a triple play service to get the bundle prices, then not attaching an actual phone to the fixed network connection.

Others might attach a phone to the line, but rarely use it.

Among households with both landline and mobile phones, 34 percent received all or almost all calls on mobile devices in the second half of 2013, the NCHS reports.

These mobile-mostly households make up 16 percent of all U.S. households. During the second half of 2013, about 44 million adults (18 percent) lived in mobile-mostly households, not too different from the 17 percent who lived in such homes in 2010.

That is a reasonable way of putting some boundaries on future potential triple-play or quadruple-play driven buy rates for fixed network voice services that might not be used too much, if at all.

The rates of fixed network voice service abandonment are higher in certain groups. Some 66 percent of adults aged 25 to 29 lived in households with mobile service only.

Among households of 18 to 24 year old adults, 53 percent were mobile only. Among households containing people 30 to 34, 60 percent were mobile-only.

The percentage of adults living in households with mobile service and no landline voice service  
decreased for those in households older than 35.

Mobile-only voice was characteristic of households 48 percent for those aged 35 to 44, 31 percent for those aged 45 to 64 and 14 percent for those aged 65 and over.

That pattern of faster adoption by younger households has been characteristic of many new technologies and services.

And that pattern seems to be true for adults living in mobile-only homes as well. Among all mobile-only adults, the proportion aged 35 and over has increased steadily, the National Center for Health Statistics says.

In the second half of 2013, more than half of mobile-only adults (55 percent) were aged 35 and over, up from 48 percent in the second half of 2010.

In households inhabited by non-related people, 76 percent are mobile-only.

About 47 of adults living alone used only mobile phones for voice. Adults living only with spouses or other adult family members were mobile-only at a 31 percent rate.

Some 62 percent of households occupied by adults in rented homes were mobile-only. In homes occupied by owners, about 29 percent were mobile-only.

Among all mobile-only adults, the proportion living in homes owned by a household member increased. In the second half of 2013, 49 percent of mobile-only adults were living in homes owned by a household member, up from 43 percent in the second half of 2010.

source: Pew Research Center
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