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A landline telephone refers to a phone that uses a metal wire or fibre optic telephone line for transmission as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, which uses radio waves for transmission. In 2003, the CIA reported approximately 1.263 billion main telephone lines worldwide. China had more than any other country at 350 million and the United States was second with 268 million. The United Kingdom has 23.7 million residential fixed homephones. The 2013 statistics show that the total number of fixed-telephone subscribers in the world was about 1.16 billion. The number of landline subscribers continuously decreases due to upgrades in digital technology and the conveniences that come with switching to wireless (cellular) or Internet-based alternatives.

Telephony is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is intimately linked to the invention and development of the telephone.

Telephony is commonly referred to as the construction or operation of telephones and telephonic systems and as a system of telecommunications in which telephonic equipment is employed in the transmission of speech or other sound between points, with or without the use of wires. The term is also used frequently to refer to computer hardware, software, and computer network systems, that perform functions traditionally performed by telephone equipment. In this context the technology is specifically referred to as Internet telephony, or voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).