Ungrounded communication

The report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how quickly some afflictions can spread in today’s high-tech world.

In a little more than five years, the United States has gone from a country in which only a tiny minority of people used cell phones exclusively for telephone communication to one in which the percentage of cell-phone-only households now exceeds the percentage relying exclusively on traditional land lines.

The majority of U.S. households have both land lines and cell phones, but that may be changing as well. The economic recession combined with new bundling packages for Internet, television and cell phones, is causing increasing numbers of people to drop their land lines.

This massive switch away from traditional phones causes problems for some.

Telemarketers and political pollsters are finding it increasingly difficult to reach customers or obtain representative samples by calling only landlines.

The cell-phone phenomenon can also cause problems for public-safety agencies trying to reach people in emergencies, for businesses trying to track down customers and even for people trying to find old friends. Most cell phones aren’t listed in traditional phone books, and many of the pay-for-service directories don’t have access to all of the listings from the many different cell phone providers.

But we’ll figure it out. Cell phones and their more high-tech derivatives are now ubiquitous.

And with more and more people deciding they can stay in touch without old-fashion land lines, cell-phone directories may become the next growth industry.


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