I knew the trend toward cell phones, and away from land lines, has been taking place for years now. But I had no idea that things had become this lopsided in North Dakota. According to numbers from the Public Service Commission, over 68% of phone lines in North Dakota are cell phones:
The PSC says more than 780,000 telephones are in use in North Dakota. Of those, nearly 525,000 were wireless phones.
According to the article, cell phone use was up 18% in 2012 while land line use was down 10%. Also eating into traditional “land lines” are VOIP lines through services like Skype which use the internet, instead of the traditional land line networks, to make calls.
It seems as though the demise of the old phone networks are written on the wall. As the cost of supporting those networks falls on fewer and fewer subscribers, companies will begin to phase them out. Is that a good thing?
Of my friends and family who are still clinging to their land lines, the most common explanation seems to be that they’re worried about being able to communicate if the cell networks go down. But are cell phone networks any less reliable than the traditional land lines?
It’s hard to say. Both phone networks have infrastructure that could be taken out by natural disasters, rendering them inoperable. I’m not an expert, but is seems cell phone networks are pretty resilient. The big networks like Verizon even have mobile towers they can move into areas to provide additional capacity, or replace downed permanent towers (they brought some of those towers to Minot during the flooding in 2011).
Yet, from the end user perspective, a cell phone quickly becomes useless if you can’t charge it. Which is tough when the power is out unless you have backups like a battery pack or a generator.
Regardless, this seems to be the way we’re heading.