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franklin county times

Callers choose cell phones over land lines

By Staff
MAKING THE CALL Josh Meadows has used wireless cellular phones instead of conventional phone service for the past two years. Meadows said wireless service offers convenience and fewer telemarketing calls. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 16, 2003
Josh Meadows of Meridian has used wireless phone service exclusively for about two years because of economics, convenience and fewer telemarketer calls.
Meadows is one of a growing number of people who have abandoned conventional telephone service and have switched exclusively to cell phones. And like Meadows, the reasons for the switch are varied.
Some say they went cellular because available wireless packages are less expensive than traditional phone service. Some say they went wireless because they never miss calls.
Wireless displacement
Officials at BellSouth call the exodus from land-lines to cell phones "wireless displacement." It is also referred to as "wireless substitution."
As a parent company of Cingular Wireless, BellSouth is keeping a close eye on the trend and responding to it, according to C.D. Smith, BellSouth regional manager.
On the national level it is estimated that about 3 percent to 5 percent of the population have switched to wireless for their primary phone service.
While Smith foresees a continuing need for wireless service because of its reliability, security and convenience, he doesn't believe wireless will take the place of the conventional land lines altogether.
Market response
He said a large family may have several phone lines to their home for telephones and computers. Plus, he said, every member of the family also may own a cell phone.
For BellSouth, more wireless use means more business opportunities.
Part of BellSouth's response has been to package wireless service into its promotions. One of them, Unlimited Answers, offers users one price for unlimited local and long distance calling on land lines and Cingular wireless.
Communications technology
Meadows, who works during the day at La-Z-Boy in Newton, is on the road a lot.
He is active in the Russell Baptist Church and plans to move to Texas in August, where he will attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Meadows, a Cellular South customer, had 100 minutes available to him when he first started using his cell phone exclusively in 2001.
Now he said he pays $49 each month for an unlimited minutes package that lets him talk to people all over the state without paying long distance charges.
He said he has an out-of-state long distance plan as well. Many other features also are available with cell phones, including Internet capability, text messages, voice activation dialing, games and cameras.
With all the advancements, cell phones still need a signal and Meadows said that's the main drawback in going totally wireless. Even though he has a voice mail package with his cell phone, he can't get his messages unless he has a signal.
But cost, convenience and no telemarketers outweigh his "Can you hear me now?" conversations. Meadows keeps his cell phone charged and whenever he doesn't want to receive calls, he turns it off.
He also has different telephone rings programmed into his phone for different friends and family members so that he knows who is calling him when his phone plays "Waltzing Matilda."