CTIA’s Annual Survey Says US Wireless Providers Handled 3.2 Trillion Megabytes of Data Traffic in 2013 for a 120 Percent Increase Over 2012

Jun 17, 2014

Data usage projections from Cisco, Ericsson and other third parties say traffic will grow eight times this figure by 2018 

Latest facts again demonstrate the U.S. wireless industry’s need for significantly more spectrum to meet consumers’ demand for wireless broadband anytime, anywhere

WASHINGTON – Today, CTIA-The Wireless Association® released the results of its annual survey, which showed U.S. wireless providers handled more than 3.2 trillion megabytes (MB) of data in 2013, a 120 percent increase from the previous year. According to Cisco, Ericsson and other research firms, by 2018, data usage will increase eight times the 2013 figure, or be more than 383 times the traffic in 2008.

In order to handle this uptick in consumer usage in 2013, wireless carriers invested a record breaking $33.1 billion in capital expenditures, approximately $101 per subscriber, excluding the cost of spectrum. Even though the U.S. has only five percent of the world’s mobile users, American wireless providers invested 24 percent of the world’s total expenditures. Since CTIA’s Annual Industry Survey began in 1985, wireless providers reported investing more than $398 billion in infrastructure, not including the cost of spectrum.

The survey reveals continued significant annual growth in mobile subscribers, devices and network usage, and a comparison to 2010 figures further underscores the transformative and dramatic growth in the mobile ecosystem over the past three years alone.

Mobile Trends in the United States, 2010-2013




The Delta


296 million

336 million



78 million

175 million


Tablets (CMRS only, not Wi-Fi)

14 million

25 million


Total handsets available




Handset manufacturers




Data Traffic

388 billion MB

3.23 trillion MB


Minutes of Use

2.24 trillion

2.62 trillion


MMS traffic

57 billion

96 billion


Video Traffic*

24 PB a month

189 PB a month


Incremental Capital investment

$25 billion

$33 billion


Cumulative Capex

$310 billion

$398 billion


Sources: CTIA, *Cisco

“Our annual survey demonstrates just how dynamic and innovative the U.S. wireless industry continues to be, which ultimately benefits consumers. The continued remarkable growth in mobile broadband underscores the critical importance of the upcoming AWS-3 and broadcast incentive spectrum auctions to the future viability of the mobile ecosystem. We must all work together to ensure those auctions are successful,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO of CTIA. “As our nation’s carriers invest billions of dollars every year to provide consumers with the world’s best wireless networks, products and services, we need to redouble our efforts to work collaboratively to identify additional spectrum bands for mobile broadband use to meet future consumer demands. We need to start a new dialogue with all affected stakeholders to develop a long-term strategic spectrum vision for 2020 and beyond.”

Infographics on the U.S. wireless providers capital expenditures, consumer usage (voice, data, SMS and MMS) and wireless subscriber connections and types of device used are available. To see a summary of the report or to purchase the full report from the CTIA’s Store, please visit: http://store.ctia.org.


CTIA-The Wireless Association® (www.ctia.org) is an international organization representing the wireless communications industry. Membership in the association includes wireless carriers and their suppliers, as well as providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products. CTIA advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices and initiatives, and sponsors the industry’s leading wireless tradeshows. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C.

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