Americans turn away from landlines

A quarter of all Americans no longer have a landline, according to the latest figures from the Federal Communications Commission.

Mobile phones have become near-universal – 89 percent of people own at least one – and 18 percent have mobile internet, double the number in 2008.

There’s a big difference between young and old, providing a good indication of future trends. Over half of adults live in households without a landline, for example, and this age group is much more likely to have a smartphone.

Voice usage continues to decline, with text and multimedia messaging on what seems to be an unstoppable rise.

Prices remained pretty flat during 2009, says the report. But total service revenues for the mobile wireless industry are on the up, hitting $154.7 billion during 2009. Annual voice revenues fell for the first time in 2009, by approximately four percent, to $113 billion. At the same time, data revenue increased 28 percent from $32 billion to $42 billion.

The report points out just how well mobile wireless carriers are doing out of the boom in traffic. Verizon Wireless and AT&T both made record profits during 2009, and T-Mobile’s doing very nicely too. Only Sprint saw a fall in profits, and even that was comparatively small.

One thing the report doesn’t do is give any hints as to the FCC’s thoughts on the proposwed merger of AT&T with T-Mobile.

While the report does say that power has been concentrated into a smaller nomber of operators over the years, it doesn’t comment directly.

Hedging its bets just a little, it does, though, point out that “a merger can potentially form a stronger provider that restrains competitors from engaging in anticompetitive behavior, or may increase the likelihood that the merged firm may itself, or in coordination with other firms, would obtain or maintain market power.”