Majority of U.S. Homes Now "Mobile Only" for Voice

It finally has happened: Fewer than half of all U.S. homes buy a fixed line voice service, the Centers for Disease Control reports. That “milestone” was expected, as the percentage of U.S. households buying fixed-line voice service has been steadily declining for more than a decade.

Preliminary results from the July 2016 to December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that 50.8 percent of U.S.  homes did not have a landline telephone service.

Earlier studies had shown that even households with fixed line phone service have been using those services less. In the U.S. market, fixed network voice peaked either in 2000 or 2001, depending on which source one cites.  

Something similar likely is happening with linear video subscriptions, as cord cutting (customers abandoning service), cord shaving (customers reducing levels of service) and cord never (people who never had bought a linear video service)

"The first quarter is usually a seasonally strong one for pay TV. It wasn’t this year," said MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett. Moffett said the drop of 762,000 video subscribers was the worst first-quarter loss ever for the U.S. linear video subscription business.

It is a fact that linear video is past its peak. Almost nobody would dispute the faster rates of decline are coming. Many would argue the rate of decline now clearly has accelerated. The issue is whether--or when--an inflection point is reached, where the rate of change happens very fast, over a relatively few years.

It is likely fair to point out that changes in some markets--internet access, mobility, mobile data, text messaging--show clearer signs of inflection points and discontinuous change. Change has tended to move in more linear fashion in the fixed network markets, although 2000 to 2003 marked a key turning point--and arguably inflection point--for voice revenue, lines and usage.

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