Another Record Day in Mobile

Another Record Day in Mobile

January 20, 2017

With massive mobile usage expected at inauguration events in DC this weekend, this is a good opportunity to reflect on how much traffic passes over our wireless networks every day. These snapshots, these moments of time, illustrate just how much Americans’ wireless use has changed and continues to change.  

Eight years ago, 50 million Americans used smartphones; now that number has grown to 228 million.  The number of wireless-only households has more than doubled, now representing roughly half of all U.S. households. And while CTIA didn’t even begin tracking mobile data traffic until 2010, that figure has grown 2,387 percent since then, from 388 billion MBs at the turn of the decade to 9.6 trillion MBs in 2015.  In 2015 alone, your mobile usage doubled.   

That growth has ridden on 4G wireless networks. Remarkably, in 2009, those networks had not even been deployed yet. Today, national carriers—and hundreds of regional providers across the country—compete to offer these fast and reliable networks to 99.7% of Americans.

And that competition drives providers to invest to meet the demands of your mobile life every day. In fact, just as your wireless use has grown over the last eight years, so too has the wireless industry’s capital investment—from $20.3 billion in 2009 to nearly $32 billion in 2015. That’s a 57% increase since the last White House transition and a staggering $197 billion in total over that period.

Because we know you want your video, tweet, and post to get through. Whether you’re at today’s inauguration, a concert, a ball game, or another big event, your mobile device—and the wireless networks that power them—serves as your connection to your family, your friends, and indeed the whole world.

That’s why wireless carriers have spent months preparing for the inauguration festivities here in Washington—just like they spend months and years building out networks nationwide. With large crowds slated to come to town this weekend, our members have strengthened their wireless networks —adding capacity to handle the wide range of wireless devices and new mobile tools, such as Facebook Live and Snapchat, that barely existed even four years ago.  Amazingly, some national carriers are building the network to support 10 times more capacity for today. 

Much of the wireless infrastructure and technology deployed for the inauguration will remain in the nation’s capital after the crowds disperse. And, we see similar investment across the country, wireless traffic is projected to grow six-fold by 2020 and our members are preparing to roll out 5G, the next-generation of wireless. In fact, Accenture estimates that wireless will invest $275 billion to deploy 5G networks, creating 3 million jobs and growing the economy by $500 billion.

And as a new Administration and a new Congress begin, policymakers have an important role to play. To unleash the full potential of this investment and enable the U.S. to remain the global leader in wireless, our government officials—in DC, the states, and communities throughout the U.S.—should ensure that wireless infrastructure can be deployed quickly and economically and operators have the spectrum they need to support our mobile-first lives.

As one chapter in our nation’s history closes and a new chapter begins, the wireless industry is —as always—ready to invest in what’s next, compete for your business, and provide you the best mobile experience in the world.

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