It's a truly nascent trend, but you may already know someone who functions without a traditional phone line. The 1996 Telecommunications Act may have forced the Baby Bells to allow competition, but according to Bruce Kushnick, chairman of consumer group TeleTruth (www.teletruth.org), the Bells still collect an extra $200 per year from each household compared to other telecom companies.
With competition driving telecom prices down for all but Bell land line services, about 1.7 percent of the buying public have dropped land lines for a combination of broadband access and mobile phones, reports Charles Golvin, senior analyst at Forrester Research. By 2006, 5.5 million households will have given up second land lines and 2.3 million will have shut down their primary lines.
Cutting the cord is far more nettlesome for business. But starting this year, VOIP promises to give businesses the kind of flexibility at the office that mobile phones give them on the go. By 2006, Golvin figures, VOIP will displace 4.26 million traditional phone lines.
Mike Hogan is Entrepreneur's technology editor. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Forrester Research