Businesses begin losing landlines

Anecdotal reporting indicates businesses and institutions are now starting to ditch landlines. Not quite the holiday message the major carriers wanted to hear.

Higher education has been one of the leaders in this trend, dumping phone systems left and right. Universities more and more don't have to support landlines in dorms, as students come to campus with cell phones and laptops in hand, but it's often overlooked that professors gain mobility and flexibility as well from switching to mobile technology. No legacy land lines means being able to economize on operational expenses.

USA Today says there are no national statistics available on how many of America's businesses have ditched landlines. Forrester Research estimates about 25 percent of businesses are starting to phase out desk phones, while more than 8 percent of "road warrior" employees nationwide only have cell phones, according to In-Stat.

Businesses are embracing the no-landline model because they can save money, but U.S. tax law has proved to be a bookkeeping burden (It's always the IRS, isn't it?).  Since 1989, personal use of company cell phones has been viewed as extra compensation, meaning extra paperwork. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants the IRS to change the code so employees don't have to list personal calls.

Across the nation governments and businesses are experimenting with cutting the cord. City officials in Washington D.C. have started a pilot that will have 30 employees with government issued cell phones give up their desk phones. KLA-Tencor also is equipping 42 employees with only cell phones by early March.  Needless to say, if trials go well, there could be a swift migration to phoneless desks to save money.

FierceTelecom would like to add some fuel to the fire: we've heard from a couple of sources that Sun Microsystems has been looking at a wholesale dumping of TDM-style landlines and handsets of all types (TDM and IP) throughout the company. Less operational expense, all those inventory issues, wiring closes, yadda-yadda would go away.

Mobile PBX company OnRelay has been continuously pounding the table that the corporate era of desktop handsets is coming to a close. We suspect they and other FMC/mobile UC companies such as Divitas Networks like this idea - a lot.  Carriers, on the other hand...

For more:
- The USA Today piece providing evidence to make OnRelay and Divitas happy.

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