America's desertion of traditional landlines in favour of cellphones is growing with Arkansas and Mississippi leading the way, according to a new study.
The states where the smallest number of people depend solely on cellphones and no landlines is New Jersey and Rhode Island.
About 35 per cent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have cellphones and lack landline telephones, according to estimates by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In New Jersey and Rhode Island, that figure is only 13 per cent.
Experts believe that the reason for a growing dependence on mobile phones is people cannot afford landlines.
'The answer's obvious. No one has money here,' said John N. Daigle, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Mississippi who has had broad experience in the telecommunications industry.
'If they can do without a landline, they'll do it to save money.'
His conclusion is supported by Stephen Blumberg, a senior CDC scientist and an author of the survey. Blumberg has found that people on lower incomes are likelier than the better off to only have a cellphone.
Younger people and renters are also among the quickest to shed landlines and use only cellphones.
Explaining why New Jersey has the lowest reliance on cellphones, Blumberg said: 'They're not a young state and they're a wealthy state, and that's keeping New Jersey at the bottom of the list.'
The latest state-by-state figures, which cover the 12 months through to June 2010, show that eight states besides Arkansas and Mississippi - mostly in the West - where at least 30 per cent of adults rely strictly on cellphones.
They are Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
Exclusive use of cellphones in Arkansas has risen from 20 per cent in 2007 to 35.1 per cent in 2009. In Mississippi, the use has jumped from 21 to 35 percent.
At the low end, only six states join New Jersey and Rhode Island in having less than 17 per cent of adults use only cells.
They are: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. All but one are in the East.
The exclusive use of cellphones has been growing steadily nationwide, hitting 27 percent of U.S. households in the first half of 2010, an eightfold increase in just six years.
Wednesday's figures showed that the proportion of adults using only cellphones has grown in all 50 states since 2007. Arkansas has had the greatest increase, with 15 percentage points, while New Jersey's 7 percentage point growth brings up the rear.
'That's not surprising to me,' Charles Golvin, a telecommunications analyst with the market research firm Forrester Research Inc., said of the coast-to-coast growth. He said people across the country are facing challenges with the weak economy. 'It's personal; you know if it's right for you,' he added.
In addition, large numbers of adults live in households that get all or most of their phone calls on cellphones — covering families that, for example, have a landline hooked into a computer.
The highest proportion is in Texas, where 53 percent of adults are best reached on cellphones, while the lowest is 25 percent in South Dakota.
Other measurements also highlight how widespread people's dependence on cellphones has become.
The proportion of adults living in households with cellphones — including those that also have landlines — range from 92 percent in Iowa to 48 percent in South Dakota.
EIGHT STATES WITH HIGHEST NUMBER OF ADULTS ONLY USING CELLPHONES
7, North Dakota
EIGHT STATES WITH THE LOWEST NUMBER ONLY USING CELLPHONES
1, New Jersey
2, Rhode Island
8, South Dakota
Steve Kolbeck, chairman of South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission, said he believes his state's low reliance on cellphones reflected its vast rural areas, though nearby states have similar topography and a higher dependence on cellphones.
'It really surprises me,' Kolbeck said. 'For as mobile as people are in South Dakota and as remote as we are? I mean, everybody and their dog seems to have a cellphone, but they must be keeping their landline as that backup.'
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