People who can't get phone service

A friend of mine claims that he recently heard a report on NPR that quoted the factoid, 2 million households in the USA do not have phone service, because they can’t get it. (Not because they simply don’t want it, but because it isn’t available) I’m not an expert on telecommunications, but this seems to me like one of those highly dubious “facts” for two reasons.

First I thought there was some government program/regulations that made sure people in even the most rural people had access to phones. Second, couldn’t these people get satellite phones?

Is there anywhere in the USA that 2 million people live where you truly can’t get phone service if you want it? If so, where is it?


My daughter lives in Forks of Salmon California and was given a quote from the phone company of $8,000 to $10,000 to bring a phone line to her property. Since there is no way she can afford to pay this amount I think this comes very close to “people who can’t get phone service”. A satellite phone is also beyond her means. Of course, there is no cell phone service in her area.

Nevertheless, 2 million households sounds like much too high a number. If the USA has something like 200 million people then this would mean more than one out of a hundred people don’t can’ get phone service. (How many people in a household?) I don’t think so.

BTW, there is also no electrical service where she lives and people get by with water power, solar panels and generators.

For what it’s worth, I know that a lot of people can’t get phone service because they can’t pay for it. Either they don’t have the money or they spend their money on other stuff.

Perhaps that’s what the statistic is referring to.

Information on the FCC’s rural outreach programs. Couldn’t find a number of households listed as not having services available, but there are three regions which have been identified as “historically underserved”: Appalachia, tribal lands and the Mississippi Delta.

Some people also can’t get phone service because of their credit as opposed to any technological limitation. There are only so many local phone companies that service a particular area and there are those who have burned through all of them.