Consumers Poised To Dump Landline Phones For Wireless

Oct 25, 2005 (02:10 PM EDT)

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Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. wireless subscribers could make mobile phones their primary telephone by 2009, a move driven less by cost and more by lifestyle, a market researcher said Tuesday.

Fully 9.4 percent of the 193 million wireless subscribers today have made it their primary phone, In-Stat said. That percentage is expected to increase from 23 percent to 37 percent in 2009, when the number of wireless subscriber in the United States is expected to reach 240 million

Saving money is not the primary driver behind the switch, according to the In-Stat survey. Instead, people are expected to make the move because a cellular phone is better suited to the modern lifestyle of spending less time at home and more time on the road.

"It's strictly life and lifestyle," In-Stat analyst David Chamberlain said. "Cost is not much of an issue."

If technology wasn't in the way, than even more people would make the switch, Chamberlain said. Many people, however, need landlines for alarm systems, high-speed DSL Internet service and the set-top box that delivers cable TV. In addition, some people don't trust cellular phones to deliver quality service during an emergency.

Other concerns people had about wireless service were inadequate battery life and poor coverage indoors.

In order to reach the high end of In-Stat's projections, many of these concerns will need to be addressed by carriers and handset manufacturers. In addition, carriers could boost the trend by offering an all-you-can-eat flat-rate service.

The study also found that people most likely to make the switch were the heavy wireless users. This was true across all demographics.

"For all the complaints that we have about quality of service and high prices, I look at that (finding) and it says to me that people who use wireless a lot, also like it a lot," Chamberlain said.