The Enterprise Still Needs Landline Phones

There have been numerous discussions of the death of the landline and the rise of the wireless phone. But is this true for the enterprise? I don't think so. Would you expect all the customer agents in a contact center to be answering cell phones rather than wired phones?

The Pew Research Internet Project survey, "Technology's Impact on Workers," examined the use of technology in the workplace, and the results are somewhat different than what consumer technology users express.

Tools for the Online Worker
The survey concluded that the most useful online tools are email first and the Internet second. Surprise, landline phones are more important than cell or smartphones. The landline received a 35% endorsement while the cell/smartphone came in at 24%. Social networking sites are a distant fifth. If you count the T1/PRI and SIP trunking access in the landline category, then you can see that landlines remain an important network connection asset for the enterprise.

Email and Internet access are particularly important to white collar workers, which include executives, business owners, managers, and clerical staff. Many pundits believe that email overuse reduces productivity by creating distractions at work. This is interesting in light of the spam, phishing, and hacking attacks that are often encountered. It turns out that 59% of the workers that at least occasionally work outside the workplace consider email and the Internet key to their productivity.


The Online Office Worker vs. the Non-Office Worker
Those who work in an office have different opinions about online tools when compared to those who do not work in an office. (See the chart below.) Email is three times more important to the office worker than the non-office worker. I have worked out of my home for 30+ years, and I consider email to be my most important online tool, far more important than any other medium.

The Internet is two and a half times more important to the office worker, while the landline remains more important than the cell/smartphone for the office worker. Although social networking is low on the list, the office worker considers it more important than the non-office worker.


Working Outside the Office
The trend for workers to perform their work outside the office continues to grow. Many white collar workers could perform their tasks with few visits to the office. The chart below shows that 21%, about one-fifth, frequently work outside the office. In this case, the cell phone is deemed more important than the landline phone.


Two Ends of the Conversation
Any communications connection will have two or more participants. When the two participants are in the office, it is more likely that the landline or IP phone will be used. If the other end is an out-of-office person, the cell phone becomes the more likely connection. The pundits who predict the total disappearance of the landline in the next few years are probably optimistic.

The enterprise locations may drop their copper wire connections, but they will not drop their T1/PRI or SIP trunk connections. The copper wired landline will take some time to disappear, so the wired connections over T1/PRI SIP trunk connections will have a long life. These wired connections will probably never disappear altogether. So the wireless phone will become more common for the out-of-office worker, while the wired connection will remain constant for the enterprise end of the conversation.

The Survey
The results are based on an online probability survey conducted in September 2014 among a sample of 1,066 adult Internet users, 18 years of age or older. The survey included 535 adults employed full-time or part-time, who are the basis of this report. The survey was conducted in English by the GfK Group using KnowledgePanel. The sampling error for the subsample of 535 working adults is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

Register for Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015 and attend Gary Audin's session, "Right-Sizing Your SIP Trunk Procurement" on Wednesday, March 18.