Remember when phones were tied to locations instead of people? We had home telephones. When I called your number, a telephone in your house would ring. If you were there, you could answer it. If you weren’t, a machine would answer and let me record a message for you. Then, when you came home, you could listen to the message.

Cell PhoneWhen you call my home phone number now, a cell phone rings. Sure, that phone could be in my house. Or, it might be in the car, or with the kids at the park. My wife may answer it, even if she’s not home. I probably won’t answer it, unless you’re one of the very few people configured with my ring. Since most calls aren’t for me, the ones that are use a different ringtone, so I know to answer it.  And if you do manage to reach me on my home phone, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  12.8% of households have cell phones but no traditional land lines. More than 34 million Americans now live in cell-only households. This is up from 7% in 2005 and 3.5% in 2003. As you might expect, younger people are more likely to be cell-only. Here are some numbers:

  • More than half (54%) of people living with non-family roommates are living in cell-only households.
  • 25% of 18-24 year olds live in cell-only households.
  • Renters are more likely to be cell-only than homeowners.
  • Half of the adults who are cell-only are less than 30 years old.
  • Adults living in poverty are more likely to be cell-only.
  • People living in the south are more likely to be cell-only.