Americans Used More Than 1.1 Trillion Megabytes of Wireless Data Last Year

Published on October 11, 2012
by John Paczkowski

With smartphones and tablets becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the U.S., mobile data traffic is exploding, and its phenomenal rate of growth shows no signs of slowing any time soon.

To wit, the latest metrics from CTIA, which find that mobile data traffic more than doubled over the past year. According to the group, U.S. mobile networks handled 1.16 trillion megabytes of data between July 2011 and June 2012 — a 104 percent increase over the 568 billion megabytes they handled over the same period a year earlier.

Driving that spike, a big jump in the number of gadgets transmitting data over the nation’s wireless networks. As of June 2012, CTIA found 130.8 million smartphones and wireless PDAs in active use, 37 percent more than the year prior. And it counted 21.6 million wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems, 42 percent more than it did when it last conducted this survey.

Clearly, wireless data usage is on a tear, and with demand expected to continue to grow, the need for additional wireless spectrum is becoming increasingly urgent. And that’s really the point of the CTIA survey. The organization is using this data to further underpin its argument that the Federal Communication Commission needs to free up more spectrum. And it’s calling once again for the commission to reclaim broadcast TV spectrum for wireless use.

“With the persistent increase in usage, this survey is another proof point for why our members need more spectrum to meet consumer demands,” CTIA CEO Steve Largent said in a statement. “We appreciate the FCC’s [notice of proposed rulemaking] on the incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum and hope that it’s brought to market quickly so that our members may continue to innovate and invest in our nation’s economy.”

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