(Adds Qwest CEO comments, adds Nielsen forecasts)
NEW YORK, Sept 17 U.S. phone company Qwest
Communications International Inc's (Q.N) CEO expects more
consumers to disconnect their landlines in favor of mobile
phones over the next several years, but he said the company
Chief Executive Edward Mueller said cost cuts were
buffering the impact of falling landline sales and Qwest's
partnership with Verizon Wireless -- a venture of Verizon
Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) --
would help it grow.
Earlier in the day, media research company Nielsen Co
forecast 20 percent of U.S. households would rely only on
mobile phones by the end of this year.
Analysts have forecast that could rise to as high as 30
percent by around 2012, an outlook Mueller endorsed.
"I would say that's probably accurate. It could be sooner
than that," he told a Goldman Sachs media and communications
industry conference, while adding that much depended on the
Colorado-based Qwest, with a vastly rural territory and
without a wireless unit, is seen as one of the weakest of the
former Bell operating companies.
Mueller said the weaker economy was hurting business,
particularly in areas like Arizona and Minnesota.
Nielsen said consumers who have chosen to cancel their
landlines tend to have lower incomes. Even when they have to
pay a higher mobile phone bill, they usually save money, it
"As wireless network quality improves and unlimited calling
becomes increasingly pervasive, we expect the trend toward
wireless substitution to continue," said Alison LeBreton of
Nielsen Mobile, a Nielsen division.
"In a tightening economy every dollar counts, and consumers
are more and more comfortable with the idea of ditching their
(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)