A majority of registered voters age 50 and older in Connecticut are unlikely to disconnect their landline service in the next 12 months and use their cell phone for all their telephone needs, according to a new survey released by AARP. While cell phone usage is very high among this population (89%), 84 percent of respondents indicate they are not likely to drop their landline phones. Respondents most often say they intend to keep their landlines because they want the security it offers in case of an emergency or because cell phone service is not dependable where they live.
The survey of 800 registered voters age 50 or older was commissioned by AARP Connecticut to gauge opinions about phone service in light of current telecommunications proposals being considered by the state legislature. Nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that AARP should work with federal and state policymakers to ensure that telecommunications services are affordable, reliable, and accessible to all residents.
“These results show that while registered voters age 50 and older enjoy the convenience of owning a cell phone, they are not ready to relinquish their landlines,” said AARP State Director Nora Duncan. “AARP and other consumer advocates are opposed to legislation being considered by state lawmakers that could put landlines at risk for thousands of customers whose service includes additional features such as caller ID, call-waiting or long distance.”
According to the survey, nine out of ten residents over age 50 say they currently have landline telephone service at home. More than three-quarters of these residents (76%) pay a set monthly price for a ‘package’ of services that could include, in addition to their basic phone service, call waiting, caller ID, or long distance. Respondents are equally split between having traditional copper wire service (46%) and non-traditional service (46%), such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
The survey found that while nine out of ten respondents also report owning a cell phone, only 14 percent say all or almost all of their household calls are received on cell phones. Over half say they get calls both by cell phone and landline, while 32 percent say very few calls are received on cell phones.
AARP Connecticut has joined with other consumer advocates to oppose legislation (H.B. 6402) that would allow AT&T to drop competitive landline telephone service in Connecticut by simply notifying the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. AARP is fighting to protect competitive telephone landline service for statewide customers who rely on it for safety and security.
In addition to putting landline telephone service at risk, the legislation also would eliminate the Connecticut annual audit of AT&T and Verizon and sharply curtail PURA’s regulatory oversight of AT&T, jeopardizing network reliability and service quality and potentially putting older people’s safety at risk.
Advocates also are opposed to legislation (H.B. 6401) that would prohibit future state regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Both bills have been approved by the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee.
“There is nothing in these bills that benefit consumers, and plenty that could harm them,” AARP State Advocacy Director John Erlingheuser said. “Connecticut consumers know that today’s digital and wireless technology is simply not as reliable as a traditional landline telephone. While they value their cell phone for the convenience and added safety it can provide, very few are willing to give up their landline and rely solely on wireless for their phone service. We hope legislators respect these consumers’ preferences when they consider legislation that could put reliable landline service at risk for many of their constituents.”
View the full survey online.