Key Points

  • Americans, especially minorities and low-income individuals, rely on wireless broadband as their primary – and sometimes sole – Internet connection. Available anywhere and anytime, wireless provides the convenience of broadband to the person, offering consumers unprecedented and unfettered access to information and experts for everything from health care to education.
  • Fueling the wireless industry’s relentless innovation and intense competition is licensed spectrum. With more access to licensed spectrum, towers and antennas, wireless providers will continue to fuel the “virtuous cycle” so they may meet consumers and businesses demand for mobile products and services.
  • Consumers benefit from the incredible innovation and competition in the  U.S., enjoying unparalleled value from wireless. In order to stay ahead, the wireless industry needs Congress and other federal, state and local agencies to maintain the light regulatory touch. Since the speed of innovation quickly outpaces regulatory restrictions, the wireless industry needs the flexibility to remain nimble and innovative. 

CTIA Position

Since mobile devices provide users with Internet access anytime, anywhere, it’s easy to understand why consumers increasingly rely on wireless broadband.

According to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project Director Lee Rainie, “A big game changer in home use of the Internet was the arrival of smartphones… the smartphone is narrowing the gap of home Internet use for some communities, and there is a big increase particularly among African Americans and Latinos…There are lots of minorities using their smartphones as their sole home access.”

With widespread availability of mobile broadband, the digital divide between those with Internet access and those without continues to shrink. It also means more Americans may benefit from wireless products and services no matter their locations, from taking online education classes to applying for jobs and accessing the best medical care.  

Yet in order to remain the world’s best wireless industry, wireless companies need flexibility so they may be nimble and continue to offer Americans the most innovative products and services. Consumers will continue to benefit as long as policymakers maintain the light regulatory touch that started during the Clinton Administration when the wireless industry was only in its infancy, and provide access to spectrum so the “virtuous cycle” remains fueled.  

Here are some of the statisticsPDF icon that clearly prove America’s broadband leadership:

  • U. S. wireless providers invested a record high of $30.1 billion in 2012 in wireless networks. This was six times more per subscriber than its global counterparts: $94 per subscriber versus $16 per subscriber.
  • Even though U.S. consumers represent only 5 percent of the world’s wireless users, they comprise 50 percent of the world’s LTE connections. By year-end 2013, nearly 20 percent of U.S. connections will be on LTE networks, versus fewer than two percent in the E.U.
  • U.S. consumers pay less per unit of usage – and use mobile far more extensively – than their foreign counterparts.
    • The average voice revenue per minute in the U.S. is three cents, while the European average is ten cents.
    • U.S. consumers use five times more voice minutes and two times more data than the EU average. 
    • Looking just at data services, the price per MB has fallen more than 93 percent in just five years. 
  • In 2012, the average mobile data connection speed for North America was 2.6 Mbps, the fastest in the world, nearly twice than available in Western Europe, and over five times the global average.  Given the current heavy investment by U.S. providers in high-speed network build-out, that gap is projected to increase to 14.4 Mbps in North America, versus 7 Mbps in Western Europe, by 2017. 
Last Updated: November 2013

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