More Iowans leaving landlines behind

April 25, 2011
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Iowa is in the top third of the nation for cellphone-only households.

According to recent findings in a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, 29.2 percent of Iowa households are wireless-only, meaning they use no landline phones.

And the number appears to be growing.

It jumped by nearly 10 percent since 2007, when 19.7 percent of homes were wireless only.

Matt Middendorp, of Le Mars, is one Iowan whose home is wireless. His family last used a landline phone about five years ago, he said.

“Cell phones are more convenient — you have them with you,” he said. “And the landline was an added thing to our budget at home that didn’t seem necessary.”

On the flip side, cell phones are becoming more and more of a needed item, Middendorp said.

“It’s easier communication,” he said.

For Middendorp, the owner of Le Mars’ Pizza Ranch, his cell phone is a tool he uses to alert his nearly 50 employees if there’s a scheduling change.

It takes a few seconds to type the text message on his end, and his employees usually respond within the hour.

“It’s easier for managers,” he said. “And they’re working on a prototype that would allow us to write the schedule and send it to people via phone.”

The only downside Middendorp sees with cell phone usage becoming more prevalent is people are losing out on some face-to-face communication. Sometimes he sees groups of people together all talking to or texting other people not with them.

Eric Meyer, co-owner of The Cellular Connection in Le Mars, said he likes the assurance of having a phone that goes with him wherever he goes.

“It’s knowing if I have a flat tire I can call someone,” he said.

But Meyer also pointed out that as cell phones evolve, people are depending on them for more than just phone calls.

“They can help you navigate to the Olive Garden or a gas station, and if there are three gas stations nearby, they’ll help you get to the one that has gas 3 cents cheaper,” he said.

Sherri Bauman, The Cellular Connection’s store manager, agreed.

“You can do so much on them nowadays,” she said. “Phones aren’t what they used to be.”

Not everyone is abandoning landlines. In fact, in Iowa, 7 percent of households use only landline phones.

Dr. Daryl Doorenbos, of Le Mars, said he has both a landline and a cell phone.

The landline, he said, is bundled with his Internet.

“And I like to use it for local calls,” he said. “I plan to keep it for the foreseeable future.”

Pat Amendola, regional communications manager for Frontier, which offers landline service as well as Internet and satellite TV in the area, said there are several reasons people might be sticking with a landline phone.

From her perspective, it’s overall quality and reliability.

“The connections tend to be cleaner,” she said.

And safety wise, if there was a power outage and cell phones ran out of battery time, landline phones would still be able to make calls.

Landline phones are also accessible in the home if a young child needs to dial 911, Amendola added.

And for some people, it’s convenience.

Landline phone service can come bundled with Internet and satellite TV packages, she said.

Some are watching the decline of the landline with a bit of concern.

For example, major survey research organizations have, up until now, dialed only landline phones for their random-digit-dial telephone surveys, according to the CDC.

Now, with about one-quarter of U.S. households unplugging their landlines, those organizations are beginning to call people on wireless phones.

That the phone landscape is changing is certain. What it will look like 10 years from now is an unknown.

But maybe watching what happens in Iowa will be a good start.

The state leads the nation with the highest portion of households — 92 percent — using wireless phones at least some of the time.

Article source: http://www.lemarssentinel.com/story/1721589.html The feed :

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