The landline telephone could soon be a thing of the past. Already, many of the things we’ve associated with the traditional voice-over-wire technology have faded into obscurity. Phone booths have all but disappeared, as well as the fat printed telephone directories that often accompanied them.
Just as party lines, rotary dial phones and dialing O (as in “operator”) to reach a real living, breathing person now seem nostalgic to baby boomers, so communicating on telephones that need a line strung on poles is to young Americans. As Press Assistant News Editor Rex Barber reported recently, landline phones have been removed from the dormitories at East Tennessee State University.
University officials say students simply weren’t using them. In fact, less than 1 percent of the roughly 1,800 phones in dorms were used in the last school year.
“Most of the other institutions in the state ... have taken the phone lines out,” said Bonnie Burchett, ETSU director of campus housing and resident life.
The same is true at public universities all across this nation. Officials say that while more than 64 percent of homes still have a landline in use, most younger Americans rely on cell phones or some other digital technology to communicate. There has been a steady decrease in the number of landline users nationwide in recent years. Officials in Michigan say wireless phones account for three-quarters of the phones in use in that state.
In North Dakota, 525,000 of the 780,000 phones in use there rely on wireless technology.
Verizon announced recently it does not plan to replace its copper telephone lines in some of the smaller communities in New Jersey and New York that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Instead, the company is offering residents a new service called Verizon Voice Link that connects wired and cordless phones to the Verizon Wireless network.
This arrangement does not satisfy customers who are not ready to give up landlines. Earlier this month, AARP filed a complaint saying Verizon’s plan could threaten the health and safety of elderly customers.
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