PUBLISHED: 4:52 PM on Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Soaring popularity of cellular phones pushing land lines further back on shelf
Laneta Cool recently became part of a growing trend that shows an apparent shrinking generational gap when it comes to communication.

Cool recently ditched her land-line and went completely wireless.

"It was duplicate money," the mother said of the land-line and cellular phone bills.

She said it is also an easier way to keep up with her two teens and 20-year-old, who all have cell phones.

Cool is not alone in cutting the cord - the number of households that rely solely on cell phones rose from 6 percent in 2004 to 8.4 percent in 2005, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.

Experts expect cell phone use to continue to rise.

"Growth in the cellular industry is increasing rapidly," said Ryan Stirpe, a spokesman for AT&T, which provides both land line and cell phone services.

While the generational gap between those who have and don't have cell phones seems to be narrowing, college students and young adults are still the biggest group that relies solely on cell phones, Stirpe said.

Texas Tech University research in the last year revealed that more than 90 percent of its more than 28,000 students have cell phones.

Starting this fall, Tech eliminated land-line phone service in the residence halls, which will reportedly save the university $500,000 a year on a service that students don't use, according to its Web site.

Tech senior Kirsten Anderson lives on campus and doesn't mind not having a land-line, noting she doesn't want to keep up with and pay two bills.

"I think the cell phone is better," she said, noting that she doesn't have to worry about missing calls because her phone is always with her.

While nearly 76 million Americans don't own a cell phone, research indicates that a majority of those who do also have a land-line.

"We haven't seen as much of a decline (in land-line service) as we've seen people getting both," Stirpe said.

While some may speculate that the U.S. will soon embark on a time of no cords, Stirpe doesn't believe land-line phones will become obsolete.

"There's always going to be a value for it (land-line phone)," he said.

Mother Rhonda McMahan has a land-line and a cell phone and said each serves a different purpose for her family.

"Our land-line - we keep it because I talk a lot on the phone," she said. "A lot more economical to have a land-line."

She said having the home phone allows her and her children, ages 11 and 15 - all big talkers - to avoid running up cell phone minutes.

But even those who opt for purely wireless communication say it's not perfect.

Anderson notes that her cell phone battery dies and that the phone has the tendency to drop a lot of calls. But, she said, "It's better than a land-line."