Getting More for Less: How Wireless Competition and Unlimited Data Help America’s Economy
Remember that great deal you got on your unlimited cell phone plan recently? It’s making a positive impact on our economy, too.
In March, the average price for a set of core consumer goods fell for the first time since January 2010. How remarkable is that? The last time that happened, Instagram and Snapchat didn’t even exist.
We can thank America’s wireless industry for this increased affordability, because according to a leading economist, the falling price of wireless service drove nearly half of the decline in core consumer goods pricing. In fact, by April, wireless service prices decreased 12.9% year-over year—the largest pricing decline in 16 years. And with the exception of six months in early 2016, wireless prices dropped year-to-year every month since November 2009.
There’s a simple reason why wireless prices are falling: competition. Today, more than 95 percent of Americans have their choice of three or more 4G LTE providers—and those providers are fighting every day for your business. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the commercials and the billboards, touting the latest offers. Thanks to increased competition, providers are offering a greater range of device and service plan options than ever before. For example, all major wireless providers now offer unlimited data plans, and those plans are priced to entice customers to switch.
And the timing of this increase in unlimited data offers couldn’t be better, because consumers are using more wireless data than ever. In 2016, wireless data traffic reached another record high, totaling 13.72 trillion MBs—the equivalent of 1.58 million years of streaming HD video. That was an increase of 4.07 trillion megabytes over 2015. And over the past two years alone, data use has increased 238 percent.
You don’t need a degree in economics to understand the bottom line here: wireless customers are paying less while getting much more. By any account, this trend is a sure signal of the competitive wireless marketplace. And on top of pricing, wireless service providers are also competing to offer more robust service, and greater network advancements.
As the Federal Communications Commission said back in 2009, “lower prices, higher quality and greater choice of services” are “the ultimate test of effective competition.” We couldn’t agree more, and as the FCC conducts its latest analysis, we urge it to once again confirm what consumers already know to be true and the economic data bears out: that America’s wireless industry is competitive.
The hand-held cell phone was invented in the U.S., today’s wide-area 4G networks were deployed here first, and the app industry was created here. No industry is more quintessentially American today—or more central to our daily lives—than the mobile wireless industry.
The wireless industry is proud of how we compete to serve our subscribers—and help our country’s economy at the same time. That’s a real win-win, and we’re already competing to improve our networks and provide the next generation of technology—5G—so the United States remains the global leader of wireless.