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One in Five American Households Are Cell Phone Only

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Preliminary results from the July-December 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that the number of American homes with only wireless telephones continues to grow. More than one of every five American homes (20.2%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the second half of 2008, an increase of 2.7 percentage points since the first half of 2008. This is the largest 6-month increase observed since NHIS began collecting data on wireless-only households in 2003. In addition, one of every seven American homes (14.5%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones, despite having a landline telephone in the home. This report presents the most up-to-date estimates available from the federal government concerning the size and characteristics of these populations.

Telephone Status
In the last 6 months of 2008, more than one of every five households (20.2%) did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone. Approximately 18.4% of all adults–more than 41 million adults–lived in households with only wireless telephones; 18.7% of all children–nearly 14 million children–lived in households with only wireless telephones.

Fig 2

The percentage of households that are wireless-only has been steadily increasing. In fact, the 2.7-percentage-point increase from the first 6 months of 2008 is the largest 6-month increase observed since NHIS began collecting data on wireless-only households in 2003.

The percentage of adults living in wireless-only households has also been increasing steadily (see Figure 1). During the last 6 months of 2008, more than one of every six adults lived in wireless-only households. One year before that (that is, during the last 6 months of 2007), one of every seven adults lived in wireless-only households. And 2 years before that (that is, during the last 6 months of 2005), only 1 of every 13 adults lived in wireless-only households.

The percentages of adults and children living without any telephone service have remained relatively unchanged over the past 3 years. Approximately 1.9% of households had no telephone service (neither wireless nor landline). Nearly 4 million adults (1.7%) and 2 million children (2.4%) lived in these households.

See full report here (pdf)

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