|The study is sure to be watched by government, academic, and commercial survey researchers. (Associated Press)|
Northeast lagging in cellphone-only homes
Mass. among lowest in study
Trendy California isn't a trendsetter when it comes to relying on cellphones. And while the 1987 movie "Wall Street" helped introduce the then-brick-size mobile phone to popular culture, New York and other Northeast states lag in dropping landlines. Surprisingly, Oklahoma and Utah lead in going wireless, according to federal estimates released yesterday.
At least 26 percent of households are cell-only in Oklahoma and Utah, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated. That rate was at least 20 percent in nine states - Nebraska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, New Mexico, Texas, South Carolina, and Tennessee - and the District of Columbia.
The study is sure to be watched closely by telecommunications companies trying to understand state and local markets better, and by government, academic, and commercial survey researchers using telephone polling to monitor health trends, politics, and much more.
The CDC, blending its own 2007 survey data with census updates, found the prevalence of cell-only households varies widely by state - sometimes within regions and even among neighboring states. This is tied to differences by state in demographics known to predict wireless- only ownership, especially being young and renting rather than owning a home.
States with the fewest cell- only households: Vermont (5 percent) and Connecticut, Delaware, and South Dakota (6 percent each). South Dakota was near the bottom even though next-door Nebraska was near the top. Also below 10 percent: Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii, California (9 percent), Montana, Massachusetts, and Missouri. In New York - where Michael Douglas, as corporate raider Gordon Gekko, roamed lower Manhattan barking orders on a huge early cellphone in "Wall Street" - 11 percent of households were cell-only.
The study also estimated how many adults only have cellphones. Those estimates mostly came within a point or two of the household numbers.
The study's lead author, Stephen Blumberg, senior scientist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, noted the data are from 2007, and all signs indicate people keep substituting cellphones for landlines at a steady pace. "We would expect that today in 2009 the prevalence rates in every state have increased, perhaps by 5 percentage points or more. What we don't know is whether the rate of growth is the same in every state," Blumberg said.
By asking about telephone usage in its monthly in-person health surveys, Blumberg's agency is the only source for data on prevalence of cellphone-only households. It estimates more than 1 in 6 American homes - 17.5 percent - had only wireless phones as of a year ago.
The health survey doesn't have enough interviews to produce reliable state-level estimates in most states, so Blumberg's team looked to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, with large state samples.