Majority of Households Have Multiple Cell Phones

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Nearly two-thirds (62%) of USA households with cellular phones had more than one cell phone in the house in the 4th quarter of 2005, according to a study released by ICR. The trend is up from 53% of households in the 2nd quarter of 2002. The ICR CENTRIS omnibus conducts an ongoing survey of in-home technology usage in U.S. Households.

When broken down by wireless carrier, Nextel has the highest proportion of customer households with multiple phones (77%) followed by T-Mobile (72%) and Verizon (70%). Rounding out the list are Cingular (68%), Sprint (67%) and Alltel (also 67%). AT&T appears to have the lowest proportion of households with multiple cellular phones (63%).


According to Barry Goodstadt, SVP for ICR CENTRIS, “these findings bear on the value that customers attach to push-to-talk (PTT) technology. That is, Nextel has been a leader in PTT and this would appear to position the company (now Sprint/Nextel) to grow their business among those households that are likely to purchase multiple cellular subscriptions since PTT enables customers to easily and freely contact other members within the household. AT&T/Cingular has also recently launched their own version of PTT and it will be interesting to observe whether their penetration into multiple-phone households increases as a result.”

Household characteristics that correlate to having multiple cell phones include:

* PC access the internet: Those households that use PCs for internet access are more likely to have multiple cell phones
* Digital Camera Ownership: those households owning a digital camera are more likely to have multiple cell phones and/or one of the cell phones may, itself, be a digital camera
* Marital status: those households including married couples were more likely to have multiple cell phones
* Household size: those households with more people are more likely to own multiple cell phones
* Number of children in the household: the greater the number of children, the more likely the household was to own multiple cell phones. This relationship is particularly pronounced among households with children aged 12-17 and is probably due to those children being provided with cellular phones themselves.

The results of this analysis suggest that it may be possible for carriers to correctly identify those households that are prone to purchasing multiple cell phones using a number of readily available household characteristics. Given this potential, it would make sense for carriers to begin initiating programs to support the identification of households prone to acquiring multiple cellular handsets.

After reviewing these results, noted wireless consultant Andrew Roscoe, Partner at ForceNine Consulting noted that “High household penetration generates higher market share, barriers to entry and lower operating costs per subscriber. Understanding the drivers of household penetration, including both demand and supply side variables such as the availability of certain PTT offerings will be key to determining the winners and loses in this important arena.”