Apparently, motivated by the high cost of maintaining landlines, landline companies have been developing ways to use cell service to replace the copper wires to the homes. Maybe not surprising as many of these companies are also cell phone carriers. In this setup, a cell receiver then connects to the existing wiring in the house, much like VoIP (Voice over IP, which uses the internet). People then use their regular "landline" handsets.
And now they have deployed it, necessitated in hurricane stricken areas (http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/22/technology/verizon-wireless-sandy/index.html?iid=Lead
This development raises a number of questions for surveys:
- Are these telephone numbers in exchanges assigned to landlines? If so, it may limit the impact on current sample designs. If not, it will require changes to the sampling design and for some studies may contribute to a decision to use a cell phone only design.
- How do people describe their service - does one household member call it landline because of the handset connected to the wall, and another household member call it a cell phone because of the connection to the house?
- How will they be billed - like landlines with unlimited calling and at least free incoming calls?
- Will the cell phone regulations apply to these "landlines with cell service"?
The magnitude of this problem may be very small at present, but will likely grow as it spreads to non-disaster areas.