Oct 16, 2013

    Fixed phone line users dip

    IT HAS been close to two years since special-education teacher Rachel Tan last picked up her home phone.

    The 23-year-old now uses her mobile phone, which she keeps beside her 24/7.

    "I don't really make calls anymore, even on my mobile phone. I rely mostly on (instant-messaging application) Whatsapp," she said. "Even my family members are easier to reach on their mobile phones nowadays."

    Many households like Ms Tan's are forgoing the use of their fixed residential lines.

    For the first time in seven years, the number of fixed- phone-line subscriptions - such as those in homes and offices - has fallen, as mobile subscriptions continued to rise.

    Figures from the Department of Statistics showed the number of fixed-line subscriptions stood at 1,989,500 last year, a 1.4 per cent drop from the 2011 figure of 2,016,900.

    The number of subscribers as of June has also fallen from that at the end of last year by 0.5 per cent to 1,980,100.

    The last time fixed-line subscriptions fell was in 2005, which had 1,847,800 subscribers.

    Meanwhile, mobile-phone subscriptions, which first overtook the number of fixed-line subscriptions in 2000, has continued to rise.

    Mobile-phone subscriptions stood at 8,196,200 subscribers in June, a 1.7 per cent increase from the end of last year's.

    A StarHub spokesman said the telco has also observed a slight decrease in the number of Singaporean residential-phone-service subscribers in recent years. However, its mobile-post-paid customer base has increased from 2012 by 5.4 per cent to 1,127,000 subscribers at the end of June.

    "This is mainly because younger households in Singapore are increasingly relying on mobile services to stay connected, even when they are at home," he said.

    Ms Kiranjeet Kaur, senior market analyst for client devices at IDC Asia-Pacific, said that fixed phone lines could be seen as an unnecessary added cost to consumers. "Every member of the family has a mobile phone now, so there is no real need for a fixed line," she explained.

    But home lines are still relevant for many, such as those who need it for pay-TV services, said consumers.

    "mio TV is delivered via my phone line, so I still need it, even though I don't make calls through it," said architect Muhammad Rizal, 41, an avid soccer fan.

    For teacher Ng Wan Ching, 23, her family keeps the home line just for her 84-year-old grandmother. "It's the best way to contact her, as she is mostly at home and doesn't know how to use her mobile phone well," she said.