The decline of the landline phone


Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Justin Jones

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky. - No calls, no texts, and no service for hours. Local law enforcement and AT&T customers call it a crisis. "There are some of us that rely on our cell phones for just about everything," said AT&T customer Anthony Davison.

Nationwide numbers aren't available right now because of the government shutdown, but Local 6 did get the statistics from Marshall County. In a population of about 3,000 people, more than 14,000 have cell phones. Fewer than 4,000 homes have landlines according to the sheriff's office.

Situations like the one AT&T customers dealt with Tuesday bring to light a big problem. Cell phones are great, but only as long as they work. Traditional phones are rarely seen in people's homes these days, but the old, trusty landline proved to be more reliable.

Davison says his ringtone didn't go off for hours on Tuesday. "My service just went out. It was quite frustrating," he said. AT&T's outage left him feeling helpless. "I had my three children with me. I have three children, and I mean, we couldn't even make emergency calls yesterday."

Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars shared that same concern. He said, "A lot of our calls that come in to our 911 center are generated from cell phones. Though cell service was cut, land lines were live. "This day and age, no one has landlines anymore," said Davison. It's a unique problem with an even rarer solution. Byars said, "We've seen a decline over the last few years in landlines."

Even after a connectivity crisis, cell phone users like Davison say they still won't rely on a land line. Instead, he's opting for a different plan. "In today's world and with the technology we have, there's no reason why we should not have cell service," he said.

AT&T is the largest phone carrier in Marshall County.

The company released this statement: "A third-party construction crew, doing work unrelated to AT&T, cut a cable near Bowling Green that caused Tuesday's wireless service disruption in Western Kentucky that impacted some of our customers. The disruption lasted about four hours beginning around 3:15 pm ET when the cable was cut. Technicians rerouted wireless traffic and service is currently running normally. We know customers count on their wireless services, and we apologize for this inconvenience."