“The Bells still control the bulk of the country’s 180 million landlines and are far from giving up on what has been a giant cash cow. When pushed, they are even offering their own Internet-based calling, but these services are rarely advertised. It is cheaper to cut prices to keep customers, they figure, than to try to win back customers later from a rival.
During the first quarter of this year, the number of traditional telephone lines dropped by 150,000 a week, according to TeleGeography. At the same time, the number of subscribers to Internet telephone services has increased by 100,000 a week.
AT&T, among others, says the drop in lines is not as painful for the Bells as it looks. Many customers cancel phone lines they used for dial-up Internet service, but then sign up for broadband services provided by their phone company. Other customers eliminate a phone line but buy a cellphone plan from Cingular, which AT&T owns with BellSouth.”