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Consumers ready to ditch landlines

New research indicates a sharp increase in consumers using mobile phones and Internet telephony.

More and more Americans are trading landline phones for wireless phones and Internet telephony, new data shows.

By 2009, between 23 percent and 37 percent of wireless subscribers will use a cell phone as their primary telephone, market researcher In-Stat said in a report published Tuesday. Already, nearly 9.4 percent of wireless subscribers use mobile phones as their primary phone.

"Those who are considering wireless substitution for landline are primarily motivated by lifestyle issues, as long as they don't have to give up much in terms of quality, reliability or services," David Chamberlain, a senior In-Stat analyst, said in a statement. "Wireless carriers can stimulate substitution by continuing to attract customers to advanced wireless features and educating them about availability of number portability."

In-Stat said heavy wireless users are among those most likely to discard wired phones. Barriers to landline replacement include in-building coverage and fear of inconveniences like changing a number-?problems that can be solved through network build-out and consumer education, the study said.

In a separate study, JupiterResearch has projected that voice over Internet telephony will grow to a subscriber base of 20.4 million in 2010, compared to 1.2 million in 2004. The market researcher defines broadband telephony as VoIP-based service that allows calls via the Internet from anyone with a phone. JupiterResearch said VoIP services offered by cable operators and start-ups are enhancing consumer awareness.

"With the current abundance of broadband telephony offerings, the market has spurred competition around price and features," said David Schatsky, senior vice president of research at JupiterResearch. "Although most consumers still do not know what VoIP stands for, they do increasingly know that if they have broadband, they have alternatives for getting phone service."