WASHINGTON - The curly-corded phone by Brandon Fogel's bed was starting to seem like a relic. So Fogel joined as many as 7.5 million Americans who have "cut the cord" and gone solo with their cells.
Cell phones overtook landlines earliest in some developing countries that hadn't laid ground lines by the time cellular technology arrived. It's not possible to say precisely how many Tristate residents have dumped their land lines.
At the end of June, Cincinnati Bell Telephone had about 1 million access lines in service, a loss of 2 percent, or 21,000 access lines, from the same quarter a year ago, new CEO Jack Cassidy told investors last week. About half the line loss was attributed to disconnection of both residential second access lines and carrier lines, he said. But when landlines are combined with its 87,000 Zoomtown digital subscriber lines, Cassidy said, Cincinnati Bell's total lines to homes increased by 1,100 this year. Since Cincinnati Bell entered the wireless market about four years ago, its total number of subscribers has risen to 464,000 in the Cincinnati-Dayton area.


The company said last week the total for wireless subscribers was down about 1 percent from a year ago. Cell phones started outnumbering traditional phones in European countries in the late 1990s, partly because phone pricing systems favored wireless, analysts say. Many people overseas also have to wait months and pay hefty deposits for regular service to be installed, making the out-of-the-box utility of cell phones even more appealing. About half the households recently surveyed by PriMetrica Inc., a San Diego research group, said they would give up their landlines if the wireless price was right.
Whether people on the move like him will go back to landlines when they settle down is one of the questions the industry is exploring.
So far, the 3 percent to 5 percent of cell phone users who have given up their landlines "haven't seen the economic benefits of paying twice for the same service," said Larson of the Washington association. In addition to running a wireless unit, Verizon is keeping its landlines relevant with newer services, like high-speed DSL Internet connections, which run through phone lines but don't require a separate line. And when he replaced his dial-up Internet connection with a cable line, he realized his regular phone wasn't central to his life.


Typically, Europeans don't have unlimited local calls on their home phones - one big advantage of landline service in America.
It took ground lines nearly 100 years to reach that level of penetration, according to Sheldon Hochheiser, AT&T's corporate historian. Many people who have given up their landlines are less fazed by cell phone annoyances like spotty reception than they are by losing the more peripheral pleasures of fixed phones.
Now many landline subscribers are using voicemail - maybe growing attached to the staccato dial tone that indicates a waiting message. The hassle of changing his phone number and paying installation fees made his decision a little easier.



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