Cells often sole phone

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Most cell phones give people the ability to take pictures and video, listen to music, access the Internet and annoy theater audiences.

They also do one other thing: Eliminate a monthly utility bill.

Herman Smith, 38, a retired airman, said he got rid of his land-line phone because he and his wife never received phone calls on it.

“Me and my wife, being in the military, were always out and about,” he said. “Having a phone at the house does us no good. I’m paying a cell phone bill and a house bill when I can get rid of one and the other one will take care of both of them.”

ENMR-Plateau Wireless Division Director Joel Drahman said more and more consumers are using cell phones as their main phone and hanging up their land-line phones for good.

“There’s no question that more and more people are moving from a traditional home phone and using wireless as their only form of communication,” said Drahaman.

Sprint spokeswoman Debra Havins said the move from land line to cell phones nationwide started around 1999 when cell phone companies offered long-distance service with their packages.

“It was starting to be a little bit more palatable, and it fit people’s budgets a little bit more and just made more sense,” she said. “Why would you have a home phone where you’re paying a long-distance company for long-distance calls when you’re already basically paying for that within your package on your wireless phone?”

According to a Federal Communications Commission report, the number of wireless phones equaled land-line phones nationally in 2000. Wireless phones outnumbered land-line phones in 2004.

Havins said about 12 percent of the population nationwide have only a cell phone.

But the trend is seen mostly with the younger generation who take their cell phones almost everywhere they go, Drahman said.

“Young people today are just never home,” he said. “And as opposed to people calling various numbers to try to find them, it’s just easier just to say, ‘Look, here’s my cell number. It’s on all the time, just call me.’”

Smith said everyone in his family has a cell phone, “from me all the way down to my youngest kids.”