Harris Reports on US Usage

Cell phone usage continues to increase; one in seven US adults now use only cell phones and one in five adults have no landline

April 4, 2008

4 Min Read

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Use of cell phones is increasing and traditional landline telephone coverage is decreasing. In fact, one in five adults do not have a landline and only 79 percent currently do. One in seven adults now uses only cell phones. Furthermore, while the use of cell phones among younger segments of the population has been widely reported, the technology is becoming increasingly popular among older populations as well. Remarkably, about half of U.S. adults who only use a cell phone are 30 or over. One-third of 18 to 29 year olds only use a cell phone or the Internet for making phone calls.

These are some of the results of a special analysis of four surveys conducted online between October 2007 and January 2008 by Harris Interactive. In total 9,132 adults were surveyed. This data was then weighted where necessary to bring it into line with the total population.

Specifically, the research finds that:

  • Almost nine in ten (89%) of adults have a wireless or cell phone. This represents a significant increase from 77 percent in October - December 2006 when The Harris Poll conducted a similar analysis;

  • Almost eight in ten (79%) adults say that they have a landline phone. This is down slightly from 81 percent in 2006;

  • About one is six (15%) of adults use the Internet, sometimes referred to as VoIP of Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol, to make telephone calls. This is basically unchanged from 16 percent in 2006.



Three-quarters (75%) of U.S. adults are using multiple approaches to making telephone calls. This is a substantial increase from 67 percent in October - December 2006.

  • Fourteen percent (14%) are only using their cell phone (up from 11% in 2006). and

  • Just 9 percent (down from 18% in 2006) of U.S. adults only use a landline phone;

  • Six percent (6%) are only using a cell phone and VoIP.



The Demographic Profile of "Cell Phone Only" Users:

Consistent with our findings last year, those who use a cell phone as their only telephone service tend to be younger than the general population - in fact, about half (49%) are between the ages of 18 and 29. This percentage has decreased from 2006, when 18 to 29 year olds made up 55 percent of the cell phone only population, as older individuals become somewhat more comfortable with using a cell phone as their only type of telephone service. Additionally, as compared to the general population, cell phone only users are:

  • Less likely to be age 40 or older (29% versus 60% of the general population)

  • More likely to have at least some college education (60% versus 53% of the general population)

  • More likely to be male (57% versus 48% of the general population)

  • More likely to have household income less than $15,000 (16% versus 9% of the general population).

  • Less likely to have household income of $75,000 or more (28% versus 37% of the general population)



Changes in the demographic profile of cell phone only users, compared to 2006

The profile of those who use a cell phone as their only telephone service remained quite stable compared to last year. However, there were some minor changes, which are as follows:

  • 18 to 29 year olds account for a smaller proportion of this group compared to last year (49%, compared to 55% last year). This does not mean that 18 to 29 year olds are less likely than in 2006 to use a cell phone only. In fact, the incidence of cell phone only usage among 18 to 29 year olds actually increased slightly (32% of 18 to 29 year olds use a cell phone as their only telephone service, compared to 26% last year). It simply means that the cell phone only usage also increased among older individuals, resulting in that group now accounting for a greater proportion of the cell phone only population than it did in 2006;

  • Those with household income of $75,000 or more now account for a greater proportion of cell phone only users compared to 2006 (28%, compared to 22% in 2006);

  • Those who consider themselves Independent (as opposed to Democrat or Republican) account for a greater proportion of cell phone only users compared to 2006 (36%, compared to 29% in 2006). The percentage of Independents also increased among the general population sample from 2006 to 2007 (from 25% to 32%), so this may have more to do with the current political landscape than anything about cell phone only users specifically.



Harris Interactive Inc.

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