CDC: One in four U.S. homes ditch landlines

The Centers for Disease Control, in researching the state of health in America, sees a steadily rising number of households that use only mobile phones.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Nearly 25 percent of all U.S. households have eliminated landlines in favor of mobile phones, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed in a recent study.

According to the CDC, during the last half of 2009, 24.5 percent of all U.S. households had at least one mobile phone and no landline telephones, representing a 1.8 percent increase compared to the first half of 2009. And approximately 15 percent of U.S. homes had a landline but received the vast majority of calls on their mobile lines.

The CDC collects phone usage data, and corresponding demographic information, in conjunction with its telephone-based National Health Interview Survey in order to ensure that the NHIS is effectively targeting a survey group that reflects the current state of nationwide health. For the period from July to December 2009, the agency garnered its data on household telephone status from 21,375 households containing more than 40,000 adults (aged 18 and older) and nearly 15,000 children.

The CDC, which has been conducting the survey of cell phone use since 2003, has witnessed rapid growth of mobile-phone-only homes. In 2003, for example, fewer than 5 percent of homes had ditched landlines for mobile phones, the CDC reported, while the survey results released in May 2009 showed that just over 20 percent of households had only mobile phones.

That growth could continue. The CDC found that 22.9 percent of American adults now live in a home without a landline, and nearly 26 percent of children live in homes with only mobile phones. The agency also reported that about 2 percent of American households, accounting for 4 million adults and 1.4 million children, have no telephone service of any kind.

Age was a key factor in whether an American household has a landline. According to the CDC, 48.6 percent of households with adults aged 25 to 29 were wireless-only. That number declined significantly in older age brackets. For example, just 5.2 percent of people 65 and older live in homes with no landlines.

Finally, the CDC found that renters are more likely to live in wireless-only households than homeowners, and those living in the Northeast are less likely to ditch the landline than those living in the West, Midwest, or South.

Click here to see the entire CDC study, "Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, July-December 2009" (PDF).