Wireless data use continues to climb, with the latest analysis from industry group CTIA showing an 82% increase in mobile data use between 2017 and 2018.
According to CTIA’s newly released annual survey of the U.S. wireless industry, “wireless use was up across nearly every metric we track—from voice minutes, to text messages, to data use.”
U.S. consumers used 28.58 trillion megabytes of mobile data in 2018, which CTIA was the equivalent of 250 million people playing Fortnite for 1,906 hours.
But data use wasn’t the only wireless communications mode on the rise: CTIA’s survey also found that time spent talking on mobile devices was up nearly 10% from the previous year, to nearly 2/4 trillion. Meanwhile, SMS and MMS messaging was up nearly 16% to more than 2 trillion messages sent.
Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of CTIA, said in a statement that the “exponential growth underscores the need to continue to free up spectrum to keep up with demand, and provide the much needed capacity for next-generation 5G networks.”
Other findings from the survey included:
-Mobile network operators invested in capital expenditures to the tune of $27.4 billion in 2018, up $1.8 billion from 2017.
-The number of cell sites in operation is rising, up more than 25,000 between 2017 and 2018. CTIA said that the industry reported 349,344 cell sites in operation in 2018, and that the gain from 2017 to 2018 was the “biggest year-over-year increase since 2010-2011, when providers began deploying 4G” — and an indicator that 5G deployment is underway.
-Americans connected 421.7 million mobile devices in 2018, up 21.5 million from 2017 — and only 284.7 million were smartphones.
“The biggest growth was in data-only devices, such as smartwatches, IoT devices, and connected cars—which saw an increase of more than 10% to 139.4 million devices,” CTIA said.