Telecommunications is a basic necessity. It allows older adults to maintain social contact, preserve their health and safety, and summon emergency assistance. While many younger people have abandoned wireline service to become wireless-only users, older people are more likely to purchase both wireline and wireless technologies. In fact, people age 65 and older are most likely to have home telephone service. Only about 20 percent of households with people aged 65 and older have only wireless phones.
The largest telecommunications companies formerly provided only telephone service over traditional copper wires. Now, with fiber-optic networks, they provide a wide range of services, including multichannel video programming and broadband Internet access. Similarly, the largest cable television providers have augmented their traditional video service with residential voice telephone options. Rapid technological change has transformed these local companies into competing providers of “quadruple-play” bundles: broadband Internet, telephone, video, and wireless services all on a single network platform.