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Home phone use could be extinct in 20 years as mobiles and internet devices take over

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, April 22, 2018 12:37PM News Corp Australia Network

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The days of talking on a home phone are almost over. media_cameraThe days of talking on a home phone are almost over.

technology

Reading level: green

The home phone is dying.

New research shows half of all Australian households are likely to get rid of their landline* phone by the end of the year, and the technology could be less than 20 years away from total extinction.

Experts warn older Australians may struggle to give up their reliable* handsets, but the National Broadband Network and better mobile phone networks could see the home devices disappear even earlier than expected.

Most people now use mobile phones. media_cameraMost people now use mobile phones.

A Finder.com.au survey showed only 55 per cent of Australian households still have a home phone connected, and telecommunications* expert Alex Kidman said many only kept it out of habit or to use in the case of an emergency.

“There is a market for landline phones but it seems to be older (people) and because there’s a comfort and an expectation of having a landline phone,” Mr Kidman said.

“The number of home phones is going to dwindle away to a point where the landline phone is about as useful and relevant as listening to music on a wax cylinder*.”

Figures from the Australian Communications and Media Authority showed more than 6.6 million adults had no fixed phone at home, and the number of households with a home phone had dropped from 75 per cent in 2012 to just 64 per cent in 2016.

If home phone ownership continues to drop at the same rate, Australia could hang up on the technology completely by 2037.

Ella Smith, who operates a communications firm from her southwestern Sydney home, said she wouldn’t be surprised to see home phones disappear after ditching* her landline years ago.

Ms Smith said she and her husband didn’t miss having a home phone “at all”.

As “the benefits to using a mobile phone really outweighed* the downsides”, she said.

Her boys Harrison and Charlie, both aged under four, had never even heard a landline phone ring, she said, and had no idea how to work an old-fashioned phone dial*.

A telephone was an exciting thing to have in your home when they were first invented. media_cameraA telephone was an exciting thing to have in your home when they were first invented.
A telephone from the mid-1900s. media_cameraA telephone from the mid-1900s.

“When I’ve been in an antique shop looking at those old, heavy, black phones that our grandparents had, they don’t even know how to dial a number,” she said.

“It’s quite … comical*, watching them follow the rotary* dial around. There’s just no connection between that and making a phone call because they’re so used to screens now.”

GLOSSARY

  • landline: a phone connected by cable across land
  • reliable: trusted
  • telecommunications: communication over a distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting.
  • wax cylinder: a cylinder covered in wax to help produce sound or music
  • ditching: getting rid of
  • outweighed: more important
  • dial: a disk with numbers that rotates on a phone
  • comical: funny
  • rotary: something revolves around in a circle

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

1. Why are landlines dying?
In this article we are presented with several reasons why increasing numbers of people are expected to ditch landline telephones and rely on mobile phones instead. Read through the article and make a dot point list of the reasons and then add any others that you can think of that have not been mentioned.

Extension: Explain why you think it is that older people are the most hesitant to give up landline telephones.

Time: Allow 15 minutes
Curriculum links: English

2. Phone survey
According to the article, only 55 per cent of Australian households still have a home phone connected. Check how your class compares to this statistic:

Create a table with two columns with these headings – “Has a home phone” and “Doesn’t have a home phone”

Survey your classmates and put a mark in the appropriate column for each response.

Count up the marks in each column and also work out how many marks you have altogether.

Calculate the percentage for each answer using this formula — Number of marks in that column, divided by the total number of marks; multiplied by 100.

Is your class close to the figure stated in the article?

Extension: Try creating a pie graph to represent your findings.

Or repeat your survey, this time asking about your classmates grandparents’ homes. How do the results compare?

Time: Allow 30 minutes
Curriculum links: Mathematics, English

VCOP ACTIVITY

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS STORY

Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

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