Industry News

Survey shows wireless data usage continues rapid climb


Wireless data usage in the United States continues to grow at a rapid pace according to the results of an annual survey recently released, conducted by the wireless association CTIA. In 2016, Americans transferred approximately 13,719 terabytes (that’s 13,719 billion megabytes) over their wireless devices. Compare that to approximately 9,650 terabytes in 2015, an increase of over 42%. Since 2010, the annual average has increased by over 3,400%.

This rapid growth in data demand, fueled by HD streaming video and low cost data subscription services, is quickly approaching a threshold where it will exceed existing infrastructure capabilities. The potential bandwidth bottleneck on the horizon is the primary reason behind carriers acquiring more spectrum and pushing the industry towards 5G technologies. We saw Verizon recently test 5G prototypes in Indiana, and acquire more spectrum through the Straight Path acquisition, Sprint has announced their preliminary commercial 5G plans with a 2019 target, T-Mobile acquired their 600 MHz spectrum in the recent FCC auction and also announced their preliminary 5G plans, and AT&T is aiming for commercial 5G by 2021.

Other data showed smartphone ownership was up around 14.7% to approximately 261.9 million. Tablets were up around 16.7% to approximately 47.9 million. MMS traffic increased by about 27.2% and the overall wireless subscriber connections, including both smartphones and tablets, was up around 4.8% to approximately 395.9 million with around 262 million smartphones in active use.

The annual survey has been conducted by CTIA since 1985. You can read more on their survey here.



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