What is the Future of Landlines? Alternative of Landlines
It’s always difficult to predict the future. But predicting the future of technology and gadgets is possible. The current market trends make it easy to predict which gadgets or technology will stay and which will become obsolete. Most of us have seen Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) replaced by DVD players and then with OTT entertainment platforms.
When we look at the tech transformations in telephony, cordless landline handsets were all the rage some years ago, but have turned obsolete today. Landline technology is fast losing relevance. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that operational landline usage dropped from 90% in 2004 to below 40% in the US alone. Smartphones are fast becoming a constant companion of people around the globe. Also, businesses are rapidly shifting to internet phones, more popularly known as VoIP or softphones.
Landlines: A Dying Breed
For more than a century landline phones have been the standard and most effective method of communication between people across the globe. Individuals and businesses alike adopted landlines as it was much faster and accurate compared to mails and telegrams for day-to-day communication. But this technology is fast becoming obsolete and irrelevant in the internet age.
With the advent of the digital era came a plethora of hardware, software, and the most miraculous blessing of the modern world: the internet. Software backed by the internet soon took over the world of modern communication and drives modern communication systems.
Mobile phones have made deep inroads over the last few years, with the penetration rate being more than 100% in the U.S., Europe, and other emerging markets (Asian countries and third-world economies), with more than 7.3 billion connections globally. Individual consumers, as well as businesses, have adapted well to this new method of communication to stay in tune with today’s globalized world. Today waiting to reach home or the office to make a call to someone is no longer the norm. Mobiles and softphones have made 24×7 connectivity a reality.
Most households in the U.S. have bid adieu to their landline phones in 2021, and there is a steady decline in the number of landline users. Bigwigs such as PwC and Ford’s have done away with landlines in their offices and moved to VoIP phones or personal mobile phones.
The telecom equipment manufacturers have been smart to identify this shift of preference and have gradually stopped manufacturing legacy landline handsets and other related infrastructure that are no longer in demand. Manufacturers are now putting efforts and focusing on the technology that’s new and in demand, the VoIP softphone or VoIP phone system.
The landline segment of the telecom industry is going through what mobile handset manufacturers have been doing for a decade. Killing the older version of an iPhone or Android handset with every new software update. Telecom companies are transitioning from old technologies to new ones, marketing them well, and ensuring that a larger population is using the new technology by showing them its value add and relevance in current times.
Alternatives to Landline
Mobile or cell phones and VoIP phones are the best alternatives to landline phones and fast replacing landlines all across. Though having a reliable internet connection in remote areas in any country is still a challenge, it is still more reliable than cellular services in most rural parts.
Telecom giants like AT&T have gradually converted their users to wireless phones in the last few years and are not bogged down by the decline in the use of landline phones. A report suggests that in the UK, landlines will completely disappear by 2025. This means everyone in the UK will need an internet connection to make phone calls. With the advent of the internet, more and more people have made a switch to fiber-optic cables primarily because:
- It is both easy and cheap to replace fiber-optic cables when compared to the copper wire system used by traditional landlines.
- Internet phones in most cases do not need any physical hardware, so no hassle of changing handsets like landlines.
- Number portability is possible with VoIP phones, the same however does not hold true for landlines.
Telecom companies that are still in the landline business, have been facing competition from companies that have adapted to new technologies with time and are creating value for customers with internet-based communication offerings. Even companies that are in the transition phase from landline to VoIP technology have to invest billions of dollars year on year to maintain the old landline networks for the small user base still loyal to old technology. These companies who are still focusing on both the old and new will eventually perish in front of companies focused on what is new and are more adaptable with changing times. Companies providing only VoIP services are focusing on providing what a majority of consumers want and flourishing.
Sarah Briggs, director of public affairs of AT&T re-affirms the importance of telecom companies to adapt to changing technology. As per Ms Briggs, one of the key motivators for AT&T to adapt to new technologies has been the increase in demand by both end-user consumers and businesses for wireless and voice-over-internet phones. In the last decade, AT&T has witnessed a 70% decrease in traditional landlines backed by copper lines. The key driver of this major evolution in telecommunication technology has been the change in customer expectations and behavior. The internet changed the way we think and communicate both personally and professionally and the global pandemic that hit in 2020, only accelerated the process.