Cell users: Disconnect if economy keeps sinking?

The New Millennium Research Council has bad news and good news for the cell phone industry.

The bad: Millions of cell phone users in the United States may cut back or cancel their service altogether if the economy continues to tank (OK, they didn't phrase it so bluntly, they said, "if the economic downturn continues as expected").

The good: Prepaid phone service could reap the benefits, because, after all, people will still need some sort of cell phone, particularly if they're job-hunting. Maybe the Mississippi Legislature should look into prepaids - the state's House and Senate are fighting over the use of state-issued cell phones, which cost about $3 million annually.

The New Millennium Research Council hired the Opinion Research Corp. to conduct a scientific survey of 2,005 folks to see how the economy is affecting spending when it comes to cell phones. The council was created in 1999 and its mission is "to develop workable, real-world solutions to the issues and challenges confronting policy makers, primarily in the fields of telecommunications and technology."

They're hosting a phone-based news conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT Thursday to release the results of what they say is the first annual survey to "benchmark consumer attitudes about cell phone use as the economy rises and falls over time."

Though they're not releasing the survey until closer to the news conference, they gave a sneak peek today, saying that millions of consumers already have cut back on their cell phone spending - cutting out extras, scaling back plans, eliminating service altogether. And millions more are going to do so if the economy doesn't turn around soon, they say.

The think tank commissioned a survey in December that explored the topic of prepaid cell phones and why more people didn't use them. The survey is available in a PDF.

Tags:  Cell Phone, Economy, cell

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