You can never get too much of a good thing. That seems to be what Americans are thinking when it comes to their wireless connectivity.
According to a recent survey from CTIA-The Wireless Association, Americans love mobile devices, and they want more.
The semi-annual survey released in April revealed that U.S. wireless data traffic more than doubled from 388 billion megabytes (MB) in 2010 to 866.7 billion MB in 2011. The 123 percent increase is attributable to a number of factors. Not surprisingly, the number of active smartphones and wireless-enabled PDAs grew from 78.2 million to 111.5 million over the same period. According to the survey, almost 95 percent of these devices are capable of transmitting wireless data.
CTIA noted that, to handle Americans’ demand for wireless data, mobile providers continued to make significant investments in their infrastructure, from upgrading networks from 3G to 4G to increasing the number of cell sites, improving coverage and capacity. In 2011, they reported $25.3 billion in capital expenditures, a 2 percent increase from the year before. With those investments driving the trend, 2011 was the largest annual increase of operational cell sites, with 283,285 at year-end, an increase of 30,299 from the year before.
Americans’ growing attachment to wireless devices beyond their cell phones, such as tablets and e-readers, has also fed the demand for wireless data transmission. The survey notes that wireless subscriber connections grew by 7 percent, from 311 million in 2010 to 331.6 million in 2011. More important, penetration reached more than 104 percent, confirming that many users had a subscription for more than one device.
Not only did the number of smartphones and wireless PDAs grow last year, but the number of active data-capable devices, such as e-readers, also grew by 9 percent, from 270.5 million in 2010 to 295.1 million in 2011. The number of wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems also grew by a whopping 49 percent from 13.6 million to 20.2 million. Minutes used also increased by 2 percent, from 2.241 trillion to 2.296 trillion.
Users also enjoyed a little bit of relief last year. As usage and the number of devices rose, the average local monthly wireless bill declined. The average cost dropped by 21 cents, from $47.21 in 2010 to $47 in 2011.