The first true icon of the 20th century is arguably the landline telephone that has been connecting Australians and people all over the world for more than one hundred years. That era is now firmly near its ends. Less than twenty years ago, it was not possible to walk into a home and not see a landline phone next to a Yellow Pages. These days one would be hard pressed to find a home with a landline. In 2001, over 96 per cent of homes in Australia had landline. This year that figure has fallen to 48.6 per cent according to the latest data from Roy Morgan.
That of course is down to the rapid pace of technological change since 2001 and we now live in a time where 95.9 per cent of Australians own or use a mobile phone which is up from a little over 40 per cent two decades ago. Internet connectivity at home has surged from 30 per cent of households in 1999 to 83.5 per cent today.
Rural communities still depend on fixed lines
Landlines aren’t the only technology growing obsolete, linear television is struggling too, with 57 per cent of Australians paying for subscription video on demand services. Despite the shift, fixed lines will continue to be important for consumers at least in the foreseeable future, particularly for those living in rural or remote parts of the country where mobile coverage is limited or not present. Fixed line services are the only means of communication for people living in those communities where mobile is not an option.
The evolution of the telephone
Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the first working telephone and in 1876 initiated the first phone conversation. The landline has played an important role in important protest movements particularly prior to the mobile phone revolution and illustrates how important phone calls are in developing a sense of community and connection. We have by all intents lost just as much as we have gained from high tech.
We hear each other less
The landline however was far from being flawless. They suffered from dropped connections, static, missed calls and busy signals, as well as prank and threatening phone calls. It is possible to bond over the phone but just as possible is the ability to argue. Smartphones do not mean we communicate any better, because voice calls are on the decline with text communication rising. This means we are hearing one another less and losing a powerful connection to one another.