The use of landlines among Canadians is fast shrinking. As more and more young people move out of their homes to start life, there has been a dynamic shift towards the use of mobile phones as the primary device for communication. According to a study conducted by Statistics Canada, the number of households that are “cell phone only” has drastically risen from 8% of total population in 2008 to 21% in 2013. Among the ‘under 35’ households, this shift is even more dramatic – 60.6% of such households are cell phone only today, compared to 26.1% just a few years back in 2008.
If you thought this was a phenomenon driven solely by the younger population, consider this: In the five year period between 2008 and 2013, the number of senior households (above 55 years of age) that are cell phone only has risen from 1.9% to 6.4%. Clearly, the ease of getting a mobile phone and the added advantages that smartphones bring (video calls, the ability to text, etc.) have been causing the landline phones to go obsolete; at least among domestic customers.
While the use of smartphones is very well on the way up even in a business environment, the decline of use of landlines is less dramatic. One of the main reasons is the advantage that business phones bring to the workplace. For organizations, a business phone number is not tied to a particular employee, but to the position they hold in the company. An employee quitting (and another replacing them) does not matter in one way because the phone lines tied to that designation stays unchanged. As more and more companies encourage BYOD at the workplace, the only constant is the business phone line that a position in the company is tied to. Not only has business phone lines stayed, but organizations are still replacing business phones and upgrading them to the more sophisticated ISDN PRI services that make more sense in a workplace that is distributed across the world.
With smartphone adoption reaching 55% in Canada, according to a recent study by Catalyst Canada, these phones are mainstream and here to stay. Of this, 30% of the users are estimated to use their smartphones to read their work related emails – 21% of those do it while at work (when they do have access to computers for the same purpose!). An additional 23% of customers use their smartphones to check bank accounts, with 12% doing it at work. These usage patterns suggest the dynamic shift that is happening with respect to work communication.
However, one advantage landline phones continue to have at the workplace is their ability to keep business strictly to work hours. For employees who talk to customers for a large part of their work hours, restricting their conversation to the business phone ensures that their personal time is not taken away by calls from an irate customer. And that’s one seemingly trivial, but quite an influential reason why business phones are here to stay.