Landline Telephone Facts

By Kevin Belhumeur

In 2008, there were an estimated 1.27 billion landline telephone subscribers in the world.
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The invention of the telephone dates to 1876 and is most often credited to Alexander Graham Bell. In 1877, the first long-distance telephone line was established, spanning a distance of 58 miles across Nevada County, California. Throughout the 20th century, landline telephone accessibility and usage increased dramatically. Just over 90 years after the first long-distance telephone line was established, landline telephone service reached 100 million consumers worldwide.

Rise of the Landline Telephone

The invention of the landline telephone made verbal communication over long distances possible. Early telephone models were diverse in their makeup; some used liquid transmitters while others used carbon transmitters. As technology continued to improve in the field of telecommunication, the landline telephone became cheaper and easier to operate. Since its invention in 1876, the landline telephone has connected billions of people and become a technological staple of societies around the world.

Peak Usage

Landline telephones reached their highest global subscribership numbers early in the 21st century. In the year 2000, there were 16 fixed telephone lines for every 100 people in the world. In 2005 and 2006, the number peaked at 20 fixed-lines for every 100 people. In developed nations, subscribership numbers peaked in the years 2000 and 2001, with 57 fixed-lines per 100 people.

New Technology

The development of wireless telecommunication technologies has jeopardized the staying power of the landline telephone. In recent years, cell phones have revolutionized the way people communicate and stay in touch. It took less than 17 years for wireless cell phones to reach 100 million consumers. On the other hand, it took over 90 years for landline telephones to reach the same number.

Decreasing Use

Statistics reveal that landline telephone usage has begun to decrease with the growth of wireless technology. In 1995, wireless cell phone subscriptions totaled 33.8 million in the United States. In 2008, subscriptions ballooned to 270.3 million, increasing by 699 percent over the 13 year period. During this time, 26.6 percent of American homes deserted their landline telephone entirely. Nearly 16 percent of Americans now receive all or almost all of their calls on wireless devices. From 2005 to 2010, landline-only homes dropped from 34.4 percent to 12.9 percent. These statistics reveal that, with the emergence of wireless telecommunication technology, landline telephones may become obsolete in upcoming decades.