In the last six years, the amount of time that Britons spend talking on a landline has halved, whilst mobile data usage has multiplied by 10.
New research by Ofcom has shown that attitudes towards traditional telephone numbers are changing. With smartphone ownership on the up, and landline use continuing to dwindle, research shows that the art of remembering a phone number, or even needing to dial it, is becoming a thing of the past. Likewise, as we are no longer remembering or inputting phone numbers, the appeal of a unique, catchy, or memorable phone number has also faded.
The amount of time that Britons spend talking on landlines has halved, whilst the amount of mobile data that the average Briton uses has increased almost tenfold. In 2012, the UK made a total of 103 billion minutes of landline calls. In 2017, just 54 billion minutes of calls were made. In the same period, the number of minutes spent making mobile calls rose modestly 132.1 billion to 148.6 billion. More staggeringly, however, the average Briton’s monthly mobile data usage rose from 0.2 gigabytes to 1.9 gigabytes.
Ofcom’s study shows that young people prefer to use messaging services, such as WhatsApp, rather than talking over the phone. In contrast, older generations tend to favour over-the-phone conversation.
One key difference is that, when calling one of our more frequent contacts, such as our sibling, friend, hairdresser, or accountant, we now rely on these numbers being stored in our phones, with no need to remember them ourselves.
The survey revealed one particularly key difference between younger and older generations – the understanding of area codes. Research shows that young people don’t generally feel strongly about whether or not an area code possesses a link to a particular location. In fact, many of the young people surveyed did not realise that area codes had any geographical significance.
Conversely, most older people not only recognise area codes but will often only trust a phone number that they identify as being local to them.
What’s Next for Phone Calls?
In the coming years, changes in technology could be set to revolutionise how we make phone calls. It is already becoming more common for calls to be made over broadband than via traditional phone lines. Broadband technology does not require an area code to instruct it where to send a call in the same way that a traditional phone network does.
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
In recent years, we have already seen examples of businesses steering away from landlines. PwC, for example, announced last year that it would be phasing out landlines in its offices. Landlines are beginning to be replaced by what is known as a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme, whereby employees make and receive work calls from their own mobile devices. In an age where the majority of employees will already own a mobile phone, many businesses are favouring BYOD as the way forward.
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