Wireless survey: 91% of Americans use cell phones

As the CTIA kicked off its annual conference in Las Vegas yesterday, it also released the results of its semiannual US wireless industry survey for the last half of 2009. Even in the face of the largest economic recession since the Great Depression, results show that the wireless industry continues to grow as a vast majority of the US population is using a mobile phone.

The survey of wireless carriers revealed that over 285 million Americans are mobile subscribers, about 91 percent of the total population. That's up 15 million over the same time last year, and growth has slowed somewhat due to market saturation. Those 285 million callers used 1.12 trillion minutes of talk time in the last half of 2009, up 3.4 percent of the same period in 2008. That breaks down to an average of 6.1 billion minutes used per day, or about 21 minutes per person per day.

Wireless service revenues totaled $77 billion for the last half of the year, up slightly from last year. But the real growth is coming from wireless data services—mobile Web, text messages, and other non-voice services. In the latter half of last year, revenue for wireless data service totaled over $22 billion, nearly a third of overall wireless services revenue and up 26 percent year-over-year.

The survey revealed that 257 million "data-capable" devices are active on US carriers' networks. However, roughly 50 million of those are smartphones capable of more advanced wireless services than SMS, MMS, and WAP browsing. Another 12 million are 3G-enabled laptops. Those devices are responsible for the majority of data service revenues.

"With wireless connections now equal to more than 91 percent of the U.S. population, mobile broadband is pivotal to ensuring all Americans are 'digitally literate,'" Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA, said in a statement. "Mobile broadband will increasingly play a vital role in people’s lives."

CTIA didn't reveal specific numbers on data use, but it did reveal that Americans traded 822 billion text messages—5 billion per day—for the second half of 2009, and over 1.5 trillion for the whole year. MMS messaging is more than double year-over-year for the last half of 2009, with 24.2 billion photos, videos, and audio clips moving from one mobile phone to another in just six months.

During a keynote presentation at the CTIA conference yesterday, AT&T Mobility CEO and current CTIA chairman Ralph de la Vega also said that the US is tops globally in a number of categories, including number of 3G subscribers, number of smartphones activated, and number of mobile applications purchased.

Source: ars technica

Tags: mobile phones

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