Only half of Aussie homes will have a landline in 2021. Picture: iStock
Only half of Aussie homes will have a landline in 2021. Picture: iStock

Household item that will ‘soon be extinct’

THE humble landline telephone is living on borrowed time.

According to new research, the once-common household item will be completely extinct in Australian homes by 2037.

And by 2021, landlines will only be found in half of all Australian houses.

Comparison site finder.com.au recently analysed data from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and found the death of household landline phones is likely to occur sooner than expected as a result of the NBN rollout.

The astronomical rise of mobile phones has also sounded the death knell for landlines.

According to the research, the number of Aussies who own a home phone has dropped every year, from 83 per cent in 2011 to just 64 per cent in 2017.

Based on that sharp decline, it is predicted only 50 per cent of Aussie homes will still have a landline in 2021, with landline ownership continuing to decline until 2037.

Finder.com.au's tech expert Alex Kidman said there was less and less need for the devices.

"Even at current decline rates, by 2035 the number of Aussies with landlines would only be the equivalent of the population of South Australia," he said.

"For some, the death of the landline has already hit. In fact, it's likely that many young Aussies will grow up without the sound of a landline ringing through their homes.

"Many households are smartphone-only and it's no surprise. Most phone providers offer plans with unlimited calls and text for a price similar to, and often less than, landline line rental fees. If you're receiving reliable reception there's really no need to fork out for a landline phone too."

Finder.com.au predicts that only half of Aussie homes will have a landline in 2021. Picture: Supplied
Finder.com.au predicts that only half of Aussie homes will have a landline in 2021. Picture: Supplied

Previous finder.com.au research revealed just 29 per cent of us have a landline and regularly use it - and the majority of those people are older Australians.

Almost one in six admit they only have a landline phone for their internet connection, while a further 13 per cent said they have a home phone but never use it.

"If you're at home and you've got to make a phone call, you're not going to look up the person's number in your mobile phone and then pick up your landline to make the call," Mr Kidman said.

"It's really just a matter of convenience."

He said many Australians had kept their landline to contact relatives overseas, but now even that has become easier - and cheaper - through smartphone apps like Skype and WhatsApp.

"With the rollout of the NBN, it's likely we could see homes ditch their landline a lot sooner than we anticipate," Mr Kidman said.

He said some people who still owned a landline probably held onto the device because they relied on it during emergency situations such as blackouts.

But he said the continued rollout of the NBN and the transition of fixed line to VOIP (Voice over internet Protocol) removed that need.

"When you make the switch to the NBN the current copper network that your landline runs off will get be switched off," Mr Kidman explained.

"If you want to keep your landline you'll need to move it over to a VOIP service, which means if there's a blackout and your power goes out, you won't be able to use your landline phone anyway.

Almost one in six admit they only have a landline for their internet connection, while 13 per cent said they have a home phone but never use it. Picture: iStock
Almost one in six admit they only have a landline for their internet connection, while 13 per cent said they have a home phone but never use it. Picture: iStock

"In that situation, however, your mobile phone should keep rolling along fine for emergency purposes."

Mr Kidman said it was probably time to ditch your landline if you rarely or never use it, if most of your family and friends have also ditched theirs, if you have already switched to the NBN, and if you have reliable mobile phone service.

"Landlines have become part and parcel of many broadband plans. In many cases, it can be difficult to delineate the cost of internet versus the cost of running the home phone, because your provider is unlikely to tell you the split cost, if they offer the landline as an 'option' at all," he said.

"Looking at all the internet plans on finder.com.au, less than one third of plans are bundled with home phones which isn't a surprise. Most mobile phone plans include unlimited calls so it's really hard to justify keeping a home phone.

"Even for those plans that do bundle a landline with no obvious cost, if you're paying for calls as you go, you're still being slugged for calls that you could make a no extra cost on your mobile anyway."

Last year, news.com.au also reported that payphones could soon go the way of the dodo, after the Productivity Commission recommended cutting funding to payphones "as soon as practicable" as they can "no longer be justified" in an age of smartphones.

But consumer groups and Telstra defended public phones, arguing that abandoning payphones could leave regional communities, vulnerable Australians and travellers without lifelines.

 

alexis.carey@news.com.au


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