Two of the biggest telecoms in the U.S. -- AT&T
and Verizon Communications
-- are on a mission to make landlines nothing more than a footnote in the history of telecommunication. One state at a time, the two companies are lobbying for permission to replace POTS -- the copper-wired landline phone system -- with Internet-based systems that use the same wired and wireless broadband networks that we use for cable programming and accessing the web.
According to The Wall Street Journal
, Michigan last week became the latest state of more than 30 to have passed or consider passing laws that eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, meaning U.S. citizens in such states would no longer be guaranteed access to local-exchange landline telephone service.
For many Americans, they've already ditched traditional landlines, even if they don't realize it. In many instances where a customer bundles Internet, TV, and telephone service through a cable operator, telephone calls are actually being made over an IP network and not twisted copper lines. In that sense, this represents a shift in how calls are made versus truly giving home phones. However, it's important to note that there's no government mandate guaranteeing Internet access, so it's conceivable that certain areas could be without telephone service if POTS are abandoned or removed.
On the flip side, many people have ditched their home phones in favor of mobile phones, anyway. Citing CDC statistics, WSJ
says over 38 percent of adults and 45.5 percent of children living in households without a landline telephone. Two in every five U.S. homes are wireless, while just 8.5 percent of households rely on just a landline.