The percent of homes without a telephone dropped to only 2.4 percent in 2000, compared with 5.2 percent in 1990. Increased cell phone usage probably played a major role in this dramatic change. In 1960, about 1-in-5 households had no telephone available. Two decades later in 1980, the rate of households without a phone had dropped to single digits, at 7 percent.
It was a different picture for several southern states in 1960, when over 40 percent of their homes had no telephone available; for example, Mississippi recorded a rate of 55 percent. By 2000, those rates had dropped to less than 10 percent, with Mississippi now at 6.5 percent.
When examining the relevant tables, bear in mind that in 2000, the decennial census collected information on the extent to which households had access to telephone service. In 1980 and 1990, the data refer to the presence of a telephone in the housing unit; 1970 and 1960 data refer to telephone available (it did not have to be in the actual unit), which is less restrictive.