End of the Line: More Australians Disconnecting Home Landlines

Some bad news for landline: 51% of Australians reported not having a fixed-line home phone and were using mobile-only for voice calls in June 2019 – up from 27% in 2014, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

This is hardly a recent development as Australians have been moving away from fixed-line phones to mobile for years. Mobicity brings you the latest news and forecasts for the mobile industry. Subscribe today for mobile trends and reviews.

Here’s why Aussies are hanging up their phones and what it could mean for the future of the landline.

The shift from fixed-line phones to mobile

The move from landline to mobile has been steadily taking place over the last decade – 21% of Aussies had their home landlines disconnected in 2013, according to Roy Morgan Research.  

ACMA predicts that landlines will be extinct by 2037 and that only half of Australian households will still have a home phone by 2021. 

Aussies are shifting to mobile-only for the following reasons: 

  • Affordability – There may have been a time when mobile calls cost more than landline. This is no longer the case. Most mobile phone providers offer free and/or unlimited calls and texts. Mobile messaging apps now make it possible for users to contact friends, family, and colleagues all over the world at virtually no cost.
  • Convenience – A single tap lets you pull up tens, if not hundreds, of phone contacts and make a call to the right person. And you can bring your mobile with you everywhere you go, allowing you to make calls while at work, gym, or holiday using a personal handset. 
  • Safety and privacy – Mobile lets you screen calls and block unknown numbers using built-in features and downloadable apps. This helps you avoid telemarketing calls, harassment, and unwanted attention. In most cases with fixed-line phones, you must purchase a call blocker or caller ID, which is a separate device, to help you screen calls. 
  • Reliable reception – Most areas in Australia have reliable mobile reception, and the National Broadband Network (NBN) upgrade will give millions of households access to faster internet speeds. Further when you switch to a fixed-line NBN connection, your copper phone line gets decommissioned to make way for Voice over IP (VoIP), or a virtual phone line that uses the internet to transmit voice messages.

Even businesses are disconnecting their standard landlines. Small business owners and sole proprietors can do business just fine with mobile while larger businesses consider VoIP and other virtual phone systems as being more cost-effective than standard landlines.

Is this the death of the landline

Not necessarily. There’s comfort in familiarity – research shows that 52% of baby boomers are still holding onto their landlines. 

9% of Australians also insist on keeping fixed-line phones at home for emergency use, even though it is possible to ring the national emergency number, 000, on mobile. 

Further, fixed-line phones will remain relevant in regional and rural communities and some of the more remote parts of Australia where consumers don’t have sufficient mobile coverage and therefore don’t have the option to be mobile-only.

Fixed-line phones also play an important role in healthcare as some pensioners, low-income Australians, and those living with serious medical conditions are still dependent on landline for medical alarms. 

Although consumers can register their medical alarms with NBN for free, medical alarms and other types of safety-critical equipment may not work over NBN during a power outage and so an alternative means of communication, such as mobile and fixed-phone lines (i.e. copper lines), may still be necessary. 

This means that fixed-line phones will stay with us for a bit longer despite the rise of mobile. 

If you’re thinking of becoming a mobile-only user, however, subscribe to Mobicity for mobile industry news and updates. 

Clarence James

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