What keeps the landline telephone alive?

28 June 2021

Half of the population still uses a landline telephone, although two-thirds say a mobile phone is a perfect replacement. A recently published representative survey by the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) asked households and the population aged 14 and over about their relationship to landline telephones.

Nearly 90 percent of subscribers have a landline telephone because of a favourable package that can only be subscribed to with TV and the internet. Only one in eight households subscribe separately to this service. One-third of all subscribers never use their landline telephone, and a tenth of such households no longer have a device, only a subscription. Only half of Hungarian households use landline telephones, but 94% also have mobile phones, and the vast majority – 71% – fixed internet.

It is at hand and many times free

Although roughly half of the population aged 14 and over still use this device, nine-tenths say it can be replaced by a mobile phone, two-thirds of which say it completely replaces the landline telephone. However, consumer habits and attitudes play an important role in the survival of the landline telephone. A significant number of particularly price-sensitive Hungarian subscribers use this service because it is at hand and does not represent an additional cost. This is clearly seen in the use of the landline telephone at work, which allows people to save on their own mobile expenses. Twenty percent of working people make landline calls outside their homes, while only 7 percent of retirees and only 14 percent of students and other inactive people.

The other main reasons for the survival of the landline telephone are habits on grounds of age as well as age and financial situation together. The elderly claiming to be wealthy use it at the highest rate – 69 percent – which means 1.3 million people. It is least used by young people of average or poor financial situation, by 29 percent of this group in particular, but also by a mere 57 percent of middle-aged people living in good conditions.

Landline telephones are considered to be a service for the elderly

In the research of the infocommunications authority, the greatest agreement among the statements was that the elderly and companies still need a landline telephone (82 and 81 points on a hundred-point scale). In comparison, the opinion that a public landline telephone (i.e. a street telephone booth) is needed to call for help for someone who does not have a mobile phone (71 points) or that a home landline telephone is necessary because a mobile phone would be expensive (50 points) received far fewer points.

This view is supported by the fact that only 45 percent of the elderly say a mobile phone can completely replace a landline telephone, compared to 75 to 78 percent of young people. The possibility of landline calls is also considered a more useful service: 39 percent of the elderly think it is necessary for many, while only 17 percent of the younger ones think so.

Research background

The survey was conducted between 11 August and 11 September 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 3244 households by means of personal questioning. The interview consisted of two parts: an individual interview with a person at least 14 years old and a household interview. Any biases in the final sample were corrected by the researchers by weighting. The survey was carried out for the NMHH by Ariosz Kft.