If you would have told people in 1997 that landline phones would be nearly extinct in twenty years, they probably would have laughed. However, it’s true. In 2017, businesses – the last to cling to landline phone systems – are bowing out and pursuing alternative methods of communication.
Millennials Leading the Way
If you want to understand why landline phones are going by the wayside, you have to look at the cause and effect. The cause can be identified as the introduction of cellular phone technology into the marketplace, which has allowed for wireless (and ubiquitous) communication. The resulting effect has been widespread adoption of cell phones, especially smartphones, by tech-savvy millennials.
According to a 2014 national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the most recent year for which reliable figures are available – landlines have been all-but purged from millennials’ homes. Of adults between the ages of 25 and 29, 66 percent live in households without a landline phone. The numbers are similar in the 30 to 34 age group, with 60 percent living without a landline in their homes.
“The percentage of millennials living in homes without landlines is higher than for adults in the U.S. overall,” entrepreneur Catherine Clifford notes. “Nationwide, approximately two in five households (41 percent) live in a wireless-only household.”
Businesses Taking Notice
But the cord-cutting trend isn’t stopping with millennials. Many businesses – which now have large constituencies of millennials – are following their lead and ditching the trusty, yet archaic landline. Consider, for example, that leading companies like Netflix, Motorola Solutions, Stripe, and The Weather Channel have all recently signed on with Dialpad, a leader in modern (wireless) business phone systems. This is more than a trend, it’s the way of the future.
As Chicago Business’ Brigid Sweeney reports, “The number of U.S. workers relying entirely on mobile technology—smartphones, tablets and laptops—will increase steadily over the next five years, according to IDC, a telecommunications market research firm in Framingham, Mass. By 2020, three of every four employees in the country will be completely mobile, communicationwise.”
It’s not just that landlines are cumbersome – which they are – they’re also wholly unfamiliar to a growing portion of the workforce. If you want a good laugh, just check what happened over at Elite Daily a while back when a landline phone rang in the office. (Hint: Nobody knew what to do.)
Other things working against landlines are cost and convenience. Between the equipment, service fees, and everything else, a landline system can cost a business thousands of dollars per year – not to mention the initial setup fee. A wireless system that uses employees’ own personal devices is far cheaper.
Then, there’s the fact the landlines literally tether employees to their desks. This limits productivity, requires employees to put clients and customers on hold to retrieve information and clogs up processes that require mobility. As a result, employees are less efficient and the quality of customer service declines.
Farewell to the Landline
While established businesses may find the prospects of ditching the landline and adopting a mobile solution strange, it’s something that needs to be done. Think back to when desktop computers were just being phased out and mobile alternatives – such as laptops – were entering the picture. A lot of businesses were hesitant to move beyond desktops, which were familiar, but the move to wireless devices afforded many benefits.
In 2017, you can expect to see even more businesses opt for modern voice solutions that are more flexible and cost-effective. We’re in the middle of a phase-out period for landlines and no business wants to be the last one standing.