New figures from the US wireless industry body the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) show that mobile data traffic increased by 123 per cent between 2010 and 2011. Martyn Warwick reports.
The results of the latest CTIA survey indicate that mobile data traffic in the US rose from a total of 388 billion megabytes consumed in 2010 to 866.7 billion megabytes in 2011. The US also saw a 43 per cent increase in the number of active smartphones and mobile-enabled PDAs in 2011. That number grew from 78.2 million to 111.5 million over the 12-month period.
The CTIA commented, "With almost 95 per cent of these devices capable of transmitting wireless data, Americans' voracious appetite for anywhere and anytime mobile access is why the wireless industry needs more spectrum". Well, it would say that wouldn't it? That's its job.
Steve Largent, the president and CEO of the CTIA said, "We look forward to working with all of the interested parties to quickly bring more spectrum to auction so our members may purchase it, continue to invest and create jobs and ensure wireless US consumers remain enjoying the world's best wireless products and services."
The CTIA estimates the number of wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems in use at the end of 2011 was 20.2 million - that's 49 per cent increase over the December 2010 figure of 13.6 million.
That said,the overall number of active data-capable devices rose by only nine per cent year-on-year to 295.1 million.
As of 31 December last, there were 331.6 million wireless subscribers in the US, up seven per cent on 2010, while the wireless penetration rate reached 105 per cent.
The CTIA study also shows that in 2011 US cellular users accounted for 2.296 trillion wireless minutes - and increase of two per cent on 2010. Good old SMS texting grew by 12 per cent with 2.30 trillion messages sent. However, the much-vaunted MMS, which has struggled to find a favoured place amongst US consumers, showed a considerable downturn with 52.8 billion being sent as compared to the 56.6 billion transmitted in 2010. That's a year-on-year drop of 4.4 billion and is prima facie evidence that the popular usage of social media sites such as Facebook as a quick, easy and cheap way to share photos and videos is making MMS increasingly irrelevant.
Interestingly, despite the ever-increasing demand for mobile data services and apps, the average monthly bill paid by US wireless subscribers actually fell by a few cents between 2010 and 2011 - declining from US$47.21 to $47.0.
At the end of 2011. there were 283,385 operational mobile wireless sites in place across the US, an increase of 30,299 over 2010.
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