UK Landlines Disregarded as Users Turn to Mobile Data
Landlines are being used less as people increasingly turn to mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Ofcom reveals.
Phone users across the UK are increasingly abandoning landline services in favour of mobile data use, according to research conducted by Ofcom.
The watchdog’s research shows that while landline use has halved in the past six years, mobile data use has undergone a ten-fold increase.
This increase is, in part, due to the growing number of younger people who prefer to use messaging services, such as WhatsApp, rather than landlines.
Broadband, smartphones and social media have all contributed to this decrease – while a number of respondents highlighted nuisance calls as one of the reasons they avoid using their landlines.
Users across the UK made more than 100 billion minutes of landline calls in 2012, Ofcom said. However, by 2017, this number fell to just over 54 billion.
Throughout this five year period, mobile calls increased consistently from 132 billion to more than 148 billion.
Average monthly mobile data use increased significantly during this period, the watchdog added, from 0.2 gigabytes per month to 1.9 gigabytes.
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Liz Greenberg, head of numbering at Ofcom, commented: “Some of us can remember a time when we stored phone numbers in our head, rather than our mobile. But the way we use and feel about telephone numbers is changing.
“In the future, as more calls are made over broadband, dialling codes won’t need to be fixed to a particular part of the country. So the question is – could area codes become a thing of the past?”
Ofcom’s research highlighted an age divide in regard to attitudes toward landline dialling codes. Older people are more likely to recognise codes local to them – which helps build trust when seeking local businesses or receiving calls from an unknown number.
Younger people are either unaware or ignore the fact that codes identify the geographic location of a caller.
As part of its research, Ofcom asked people how they would feel about area codes losing their long-standing geographic meaning.
Younger people acknowledged that they view a contact number as part of a person’s identity, with some in favour of this idea. However, older respondents said they were strongly against these potential changes.
The watchdog announced it has “already begun” looking at how UK landline telephone numbers can be managed more effectively in the future, with the goal of making it easier for landline users to switch their number and reduce nuisance calls.