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New tech could bring demise of landline telephones within 5 years

Research suggests that the landline telephone, still the staple of nearly all homes and businesses, could become obsolete in as little as five years.

In a survey of 500 CIOs conducted by Virgin Media Business, as many as 65 per cent predicted that the telephone will soon disappear from everyday use, as firms pursue alternative forms of communication technology.

Unsurprisingly, it seems smartphones are ready to take the mantle, as just 13 per cent of company bosses saw the devices being abandoned over the coming years. The increasingly multi-purpose nature of smartphones, combined with the convenience of their size, suggests the current boom in the products is likely to be more than a passing fad, and industry chiefs appear to recognise their value.

The same cannot be said for tablets, however. Nearly a quarter of the participants (24 per cent) expect slates to fall out of fashion. With iPad sales continuing to grow and the Google Nexus 7 leading the rest of the field with great success, tablets have thrived in the consumer market this year. But Virgin’s research shows many still need convincing about their staying power in the business arena.

The outlook was most bleak for PCs in the survey, as 62 per cent of CIOs believed the desktop technology would soon become redundant. With laptops becoming more powerful, their portability appears to carrying greater appeal, and the PC decline could be exacerbated by the growth of BYOD in the workplace.

Commenting on the apparent demise of the telephone, Tony Grace, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Media Business, said, “The pace of change with technology is having a transformative effect on the way we work. A decade ago it would have been unthinkable to suggest an office without telephones. Now it’s hard to imagine being separated from our smartphones."

“Mobile connections to the internet are getting better by the day. Commuters in London can now access Wi-Fi under the streets of the city at stations across the Underground network,” he added, alluding to Virgin’s W-Fi rollout on tube stations this summer. “Almost everywhere we go we’re able to check-in at the office, social networking sites, or simply contact friends and family...Because of this, businesses have recognised the importance of the mini computers that smartphones have essentially become.”

Acknowledging the decreasing value of the traditional desktop, Grace said, “It’s never been easier to work on the move, making stationary PCs significantly less useful than laptop counterparts. However, tablet technology still has a long way to go to justify itself and sit alongside smartphones as essential business equipment.”