Wireless Quick Facts

How much do you know about the wireless industry's tremendously important impact in our lives, whether it's through the economy, innovation, competition, environmental and other societal benefits?

We've assembled numerous facts from a variety of sources in our Resource Library, but here are some quick facts that provide an overview of the importance of the U.S. wireless industry:

Year-End U.S. Figures from CTIA's Annual Survey Report

Unless otherwise noted, facts are from CTIA-The Wireless Association,
CTIA's Wireless Industry Summary Report, Year-End 2012 Results, 2013

 Dec. '12  Dec. '11
Dec. '07
 Dec. '02
Dec. '97
Wireless Subscriber Connections
# of active devices, including smartphones, feature phones, tablets, etc. Since users may have more than one wireless device, it is not equal to individual subscribers.
326.4M 316M
255.4M 140.8M
Wireless Penetration
Equals # of active units divided by the total U.S. and territorial population (Puerto Rico, Guam
and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

102.2% 99.7%
Wireless-Only Households1
% of U.S. households
38.2% 34%
Annual Wireless Data Usage (in MB)
1.468T 866.7B MB
 N/A N/A
Monthly Wireless Data Usage (in MB)
139.1B 87.6B N/A N/A N/A
Annual Voice Minutes of Use
2.3T 2.296T
Monthly Voice Minutes of Use
Annual Text Messages
2.19T 2.3T
Monthly Text Messages
Annual Wireless Revenue $185B $169.8B $138.9B $76.5B $27.4B
Cell Sites 301,779 283,385 213,299 139,338 51,600
911 Calls2
Per day
>400K >396K 260K 139K 55K
1Latest figures as of December 2012 are from Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, June-December 2012. National Center for Health Statistics, June 2013.
2CTIA Wireless 911 and Distress Calls.
CTIA Annual Wireless Industry Survey

CTIA's annual wireless industry survey develops industry-wide information drawn from operational member and non-member wireless service providers. It has been conducted since January 1985, originally as a cellular-only survey instrument, and now including PCS, ESMR, AWS and 700 MHz license holders. No break-out of results specific to spectrum bands or licenses is performed. Previously a semi-annual survey, it is released annually.

The information solicited from the service providers includes: direct employment, number of cell sites, total service revenues, capital investment and other metrics.

The CTIA survey also develops information on the number of reported wireless subscriber units or "connections" for the responding systems, and an estimated total wireless connections figure (taking into account non-responding systems).

To preview the report look at the Annual Year-End 2012 Top-Line Survey Results.

If you would like to purchase the report, it is available at a member or non-member price. Annual subscriptions are also available.

The Annual Wireless Industry Survey is completely voluntary and thus does not yield a 100 percent response rate from all service providers. However, the survey has an excellent response rate. For the December 31, 2012, installment of the semi-annual survey, CTIA aggregated data from companies serving 97 percent of all estimated wireless subscriber connections.

Because not all systems do respond, CTIA develops an estimate of total wireless connections. The estimate is developed by determining the identity and character of non-responding markets (e.g., RSA/MSA or equivalent-market designation, age of system, market population), and using surrogate penetration and growth rates applicable to similar, known systems to derive probable subscribership. These numbers are then summed with the reported subscriber connection numbers to reach the total estimated figures.

No carrier-specific or market-specific information is maintained as a result of the survey. All such information is aggregated by an independent accounting firm to a nationwide level. The underlying source material for the survey is then destroyed per confidentiality agreements.

Last Updated: November 2013

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