fcc_newData released late last week from the Federal Communications Commission documents the ongoing decline of traditional landline voice service. As of mid-2012, there were 102 million end-user switched access lines in service – down 4.7% from 107 million end-users six months earlier and maintaining the average yearly decline of about 9% seen for the previous three-year period. The new report, titled Local Telephone Competition: Status as of June 30, 2012; is based on subscribership data that carriers are required to file.

As the following chart included in the report shows, the total number of retail local telephone service connections has increased slightly since 2009. But the type of local phone service that people use has changed substantially – with VoIP services and mobile telephone services making gains at the expense of traditional landline voice service.

Source: FCC Local Telephone Competitor Report

As of mid-2012, there were 39 million interconnected VoIP subscriptions in the U.S. – up 5.4% from six months earlier. That suggests VoIP growth may be slowing, as the average annual growth was 18% between mid-2009 and mid-2012.

U.S. mobile subscriptions were measured at 303 million as of mid-2012 – up 1.7% from the end of 2011. Traditionally the mobile industry sees a stronger growth rate in the second half of every year compared with the first half, suggesting that the industry is about on track to maintain the 5% average annual growth rate that it experienced for the three-year period ending mid-2012.
Other interesting findings based on the FCC’s mid-2012 data:

  • Of the 141 million wireline retail local telephone service connections (including both switch access lines and interconnected VoIP subscriptions) 81 million (or 57%) were residential connections and 60 million (or 43%) were business connections.
  • Just over 60% (61%) of the 141 million lines were operated by incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), while 39% were operated by non-incumbents.
  • Of the 81 million wireline residential connections, 55.5% were ILEC switched access lines, 33.8% were interconnected VoIP subscriptions, 4.3% were non-ILEC switched access lines and 6.4% were ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions.
  • Of the 60 million wireline business connections, 58.5% were ILEC switched access lines, 30.6% were non-ILEC switched access lines, 9.9% were non-ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions and 1% were ILEC interconnected VoIP subscriptions.

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