Telephone surveys became an acceptable mode of data collection in the United States in the 1970s, when approximately 90% of households in the United States had a telephone. According to the 2000 Census, 98% of U.S. households contained a telephone. However, the 2000 Census did not distinguish between wireline and wireless service, so having a "telephone" could mean having a landline phone, a wireless phone, or both. In each year since the 2000 Census, more and more households began to substitute wireless telephone service for their wireline or landline telephone service. This phenomenon, often referred to as "cutting the cord," has introduced additional coverage bias in traditional wireline random-digit dial (RDD) samples, as in 2008 approximately 20% of U.S. households had only a cell phone.

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