WASHINGTON — America's abandonment of the landline phone in favor of the cellphone is accelerating, but nowhere has it gone further than in Arkansas and Mississippi. The states where the smallest proportion of people depend solely on wireless phones and no landlines: New Jersey and Rhode Island.
About 35 percent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have cellphones and lack traditional wired telephones, according to estimates released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey and Rhode Island, that figure is only 13 percent.
"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 experience in the telecommunications industry. "If they can do without a landline, they'll do it to save money."
That matches the conclusion of Stephen Blumberg, a senior CDC scientist and an author of the survey. Over the years, Blumberg has found that lower-income people are likelier to only have a cellphone. Younger people and renters are also among the quickest to shed traditional landlines.
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"They're not a young state and they're a wealthy state, and that's keeping New Jersey at the bottom of the list" of states whose residents rely exclusively on cellphones, Blumberg said.
In eight states besides Arkansas and Mississippi — mostly in the West — at least 30 percent of adults rely strictly on cellphones. They are Kentucky, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
In Kentucky, 31.5 percent of adults live in wireless-only households, up from 21.7 percent in 2007.