West Coast residents are hanging up on their landline phones in startling numbers.
Spark said that 45-50% of new customers across its network were choosing to go on to a ‘naked’ broadband plan, which did not include a landline phone.
“We are seeing a trend of customers moving to these naked broadband plans on our network. The base number of customers on naked broadband packages was approximately 15% in December 2016,” Spark said.
Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand chief executive Craig Young said more people were saying ‘goodbye’ to the traditional landline phone.
People can instead use cellphone apps to call or video chat, using broadband data.
Mr Young said a lot of young people were making fewer and fewer phone calls.
“They will chat on their device.”
One interesting impact is it can be hard to tell where the caller is ringing from with a mobile number. With a landline, the prefix 03 alerts everyone to the fact it is in the South Island. It can also make people harder to track down, as they may not be listed in the phonebook.
Another issue is the ability to contact emergency services privacy rules have been relaxed to allow the services to use a phone’s geo location to track the caller.
Mr Young said he still expected most households would keep a fixed line, either fibre or copper, for their broadband.
Latest Commerce Commission data shows that 2016 was also the first year New Zealanders talked longer on their cellphones than landlines as the number of people with a home phone continued to decrease and cellphone use increased.
The number of connections in homes fell by nearly a quarter in three years to just under 200,000 last year.
Chorus recently revealed that Grey district households had doubled consumption of broadband data in the past 18 months, driven by surging demand for streaming services such as Netflix.
The average home in Greymouth used 70GB of broadband data in June 2016, compared to 35GB at the start of 2015 a 99% increase in use.
Connection speeds have also risen by 59%, reaching an average of 24mbps in 2016 compared to 15mbps a year earlier.