Canadians Hanging up on the Landline

by Jeff Wiener on September 22, 2011

Have you ever wondered why you keep paying that bill for your home phone landline?

Truly with the rise of mobile technology I can imagine a future where the only interaction my grandchildren have with landline phones will be staring at the ever growing collection of handsets that will likely line the walls of my study during my retirement years.

According to a recent StatsCan study investigating the telecommunication habits of modern Canadians; it looks like that transition is well under way, with the ol’ landline home phone going the way of the once ubiquitous payphone, yet another casualty of affordable and reliable mobile technology.

Now don’t get me wrong, the death of the landline really comes as no surprise to me, as I’ve been predicting its demise for several years now, but that doesn’t mean I still won’t mourn its passing.

The StatsCan report found that while some 78 percent of Canadian households had a cellphone (in 2010)—a number that seems surprisingly low to me—many of them weren’t quite ready to give up their landlines just yet, with 67 percent of those households still utilizing a landline.

The change in that latter number over the previous year, though, is what has many analysts penning the eulogy for the landline, as the number of people with a landline dropped from 83 percent the year before. Add to that the fact that the number of homes that use a cellphone exclusively jumped from 8 to 13 percent, and the future of the landline certainly looks bleak.

In fact, while some of us will likely still cling to our landlines for years to come, it looks like it’s not even a question for the younger generation aged 18-34, a group wherein the number of people relying exclusively on cellphones jumped to a whopping 50 percent.

 Hoping not to sound like an old guy sitting on his porch telling the young whippersnappers passing by about how things were done in the glorious days of yesteryear, there may still be some use left in the ol’ landline phone. So while I have no doubt that the need for a landline phone is simply entrenched in the psyche of the older generation, consider its practical value.

First, for families the landline provides a unified family phone, one number that your children’s friends can reach your kids in those years before they’re ready for their own phone.

Second, the landline provides security in times of emergency. While thankfully we have yet to seriously test the capabilities of Canada’s mobile networks in the face of a country wide crisis, consider how vulnerable our mobile devices are to power outages. How will you charge your phone if the power is off for an extended period of time? In fact, during a prolonged power outage that affected many of us along the north eastern portion of the continent several years ago, landlines were the only reliable method of communication.

That said, the StatsCan report nevertheless found that not only are Canadians increasingly adopting mobile technology, but more and more Canadians are exclusively depending on that mobile technology for all their personal communication needs, making the landline a technological relic for the younger generation and for some reason making me feel really old.

{ 2 trackbacks }

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