Cell-only population: 70% increase in four years


Data from GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence’s Survey of the American Consumer® show that more than four in 10 (44%) US adults live in households with cell phones, but no landline telephones; this cell phone-only population has grown by 70% since 2010. According to Fall 2014 GfK MRI data, 26% of US adults lived in cell-phone-only households in 2010, but that figure had risen to 44% by 2014.

GfK MRI’s data on this important topic have been consistently in alignment with the most trusted benchmarks, such as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Roughly two-thirds (64%) of Millennials (born 1977 to 1994) are without landlines; and 60% of Hispanics live in cell-phone-only homes, according to GfK MRI. The percentage for Generation X (born 1965 to 1976) is 45%; for Baby Boomers (1946 to 1965), 32%; and for Pre-Boomers, 13%.

People living in cell-only households are fairly evenly represented in the West (47%), Midwest (45%) and South (48%) but are much less prevalent in the Northeast (28%). This may be because 63% of adults in the Northeast live in homes with bundled digital services, which typically include a landline. By contrast, 46% of adults in the West live in households with bundled services, with similar percentages for the Midwest (49%) and the South (48%).

Additionally, GfK MRI data show that, while 93% of US adults have a cell phone, ownership of smartphones skews heavily to Millennials and Gen Xers. In the Millennial age group, 88% own smartphones; the figure for Gen X is 79%, followed by 56% of Baby Boomers and 20% of Pre-Boomers.

GfK MRI’s unmatched consumer database is derived from continuous interviews with approximately 25,000 U.S. adults each year. As part of the Survey, respondents record their consumption of some 6,500 products in nearly 600 categories and provide details about their lifestyles and attitudes.



  1. The number of households with landlines will become less accurate because rural phone companies require you to keep the landline in order to get internet access. That does NOT mean people necessarily plug a phone into that line. Once someone has a cell phone very few people tend to call the landline. When most of those landline calls are telemarketers many will unplug the phone.


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