Much attention has been paid to the systematic abandonment of landlines by Americans and phone service providers. In fact, 40 percent of Americans have already made the switch to a cell phone-only lifestyle, according to Daily Finance. What makes this trend even more telling is how the shift away from landline phones has been mirrored overseas for our allies in the UK. The landline phone still has plenty of uses as a resource in emergency situations, but the similar drift away from corded phones in the United Kingdom further reflects how cultural attitudes about landline phones are all over the Western world.
Home phones forgotten
A survey by Relish, a UK broadband provider, revealed that one in four Britons are so detached from their landline phones that they couldn’t even remember their own home phone number, even when prompted with a reward of £50. The Telegraph noted that that just a fifth of the population still uses landline devices as phones – a majority of UK residents only pay for a phone line to access broadband Internet. Others assume that calls on landline phone are strictly telemarketers and are slowly conditioning themselves to stop answering the phone altogether. Those living in the UK have come to see telephone service more and more as a utility than a primary means of communication, just like in the United States.
The cost of new technology
New technology always rises to the top at the cost of legacy devices. The near universal adoption of the cellular phone, along with a wide range of new communication mediums made possible via the Internet, has pushed the landline phone to the brink of obsolescence. Peter Firth, a consumer trend analysis from The Future Laboratory, commented on how technology has driven this trend in the United Kingdom, said Yahoo! News. The availability of mobile phones is only a piece of the the puzzle, and equally important to the trend is the population’s shared “desire to communicate with one another” through means that are “increasingly multi-channel” in nature. As a result, apps like Skype that give users new means of convenient communication have slowly phased out the landline phone.
Price-hikes don’t help
Recent rounds of price-hikes by telecoms have also contributed toward the UK’s cord-cutting tendencies. Money Facts reported that broadband provider TalkTalk has recently announced plans to jack up its prices by nearly 5 percent. Unfortunately, TalkTalk isn’t the only company to increase its rates during 2014. British phone providers BT and Sky implemented a similar set of price increases earlier in the year. This increase in cost has made it difficult for those who pay for phone service to continue justifying the expense. Many of these customers have already become card-carrying cord cutters, but the end of the landline phone in the UK is not inevitable. Companies in the United States are working to keep the landline alive by adding new features and functionality to the communication medium. The same strategies could help phone providers across the pond to stay relevant.