NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Metropolitan Atlanta has the highest percentage of cell phone users in the nation, with three out of every four households having one, according to a survey by a research firm.
New York-based Scarborough Research said the Atlanta figure is well above the national average of two out of three households with cell phones.
But it is only slightly ahead of the other metropolitan areas near the top of the list. No. 2 Detroit has cell phones used by 74 percent of households, while Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Miami/Fort Lauderdale are tied for third with 72 percent.
Only one market in the nation -- Charleston/Huntington, W. Va., has fewer than half its households now using cell phones, with only 47 percent. The next lowest use market is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., with only 52 percent usage.
Three upstate New York markets are among those with the lowest cell phone penetration -- Buffalo has only 53 percent, Syracuse 54 percent, and Albany/Schenectady/Troy is tied with Lexington, Ky., with 55 percent usage, while just behind are Rochester, N.Y., and Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va., with 56 percent.
"Cell phone ownership is becoming ubiquitous; local markets that lagged in cell phone penetration experienced a significant amount of growth in the past three years," said Scarborough President Bob Cohen.
"Nevertheless, the existing disparities in cell phone penetration from one local market to another underscore the fact that marketing cell phone products and services remains a local market issue," Cohen said.
Cohen said a number of different factors went into some markets have higher than average cell phone usage, including long average commuting times, as is found in Atlanta, as well as both the age and income demographic characteristics of the market. The marketing push by different cellular providers also makes a difference. Cingular Wireless' headquarters being in Atlanta probably adds to the high cell phone usage in Atlanta.
The survey also found that 10 percent of cell phone users plan to change their service within the next year. Next month cell phone users will be able to switch their wireless carriers and still keep their existing cell phone numbers, an option not perviously open to them. Cohen said that relatively few cell phone users are aware they will soon have that option to change service and keep the phone number.
"As it becomes more well known, people are going to be more comfortable switching services," he said. "The lack of number migration has been a impediment to switching."