By Bob Weaver

More West Virginians are now using wireless phones over traditional land-line phones.

In poor coverage areas like Calhoun and most rural West Virginia counties, the switch is more difficult.

Efforts by the Calhoun Commission to entice wireless service to the county by providing no cost tower services have proved fruitless.

Wireless services in Calhoun are sketchy, with no towers or upgrades in several years.

Further problems will surface when the state goes to an E-911 locater system when cell phones are generally being used to report an emergency.

E-911 addressing and mapping pinpoints the location from which the call originates.

Calhoun's 911 Director Gary Buchanan says using cell phones, location is determined using triangulation system between towers to pinpoint origin of a call.

In Calhoun and many rural areas, the cell phone service is so poor and there are so few towers, a location system is not operable.

Even though the government is offering financial help to cell phone companies to expand services into rural areas, there have been few takers.

In 2004, more than 1 million West Virginians had land-line phones, and just more than 750,000 had wireless phones, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Wireless phones have now outpaced land-line phones for the first time, 1 million to about 947,000.

In 2007, their is a widening gap, with nearly 1.2 million wireless phones and 912,000 land-line phones.

The biggest impact is on Verizon, which operates more than 80 percent of the state's landlines.

A September 2008 Nielsen Mobile research study said, at the end of 2007, 16.4 percent of U.S. households had abandoned their landlines for wireless.

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