The telephone has been a primary form of surveying the general public in the United States since the 1980s. However, as more of the general population has begun to use cell phones, including those who have given up their landlines entirely, telephone survey researchers have had to learn how to reach sampled persons on cell phone numbers in order to adequately cover the general population. With the rapid explosion of cell phone only households in the past decade, now estimated to exceed 25 percent of all U.S. households, it became clear that most telephone surveys of the general population would require a combination of sample reached via a landline and sample reached via a cell phone. In particular, young adults in the U.S. aged 18 to 34 years, can no longer be reached successfully via the landline frame. Thus, the inclusion of the cell phone frame to reach young adults and other demographic groups (e.g., renters and Hispanics) most likely to use cell phones has become a necessity for telephone survey researchers. Although the inclusion of cell phone numbers into surveys of the general population greatly enhances the ability to reach representative samples of the U.S. public, calling cell phone numbers also presents researchers with many difficult and costly challenges to overcome.
Since the release of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s 2008 Cell Phone Task Force Report, the survey research community has conducted many studies addressing different aspects of cell phone surveying in the United States. This 2010 report addresses the opportunities researchers can gain from incorporating cell phone numbers into their surveys, as well as the many challenges that surveying cell phone numbers in the U.S. presents. The report also provides some new insights into and recommendations for conducting survey research via cell phone.