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Press Release

Press Release

July 10, 2018

New CTIA Annual Survey Shows Beginning of Evolution to Next-Generation Networks .

Survey Highlights Growth of Data-Only Devices and Cell Sites as well as Record-Setting Mobile Data Traffic in the U.S. Last Year

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2018 – CTIA® today released its Annual Wireless Industry Survey, which found the industry beginning the transition from 4G to 5G wireless networks with significant growth in cell sites and data-only devices . That growth and continued demand for everything wireless contributed to Americans using an unprecedented amount of mobile data in 2017.

The two key wireless trends illustrated in the survey:

Mobile data continues to skyrocket. Americans used a record 15.7 trillion megabytes (MBs) of mobile data in 2017—nearly quadrupling since 2014 and representing 40 times the volume of traffic in 2010, according to the survey. That is equal to nearly 250 million people simultaneously binge-watching every episode of Game of Thrones in HD.

Wireless connectivity is evolving with IoT/5G on the horizon. The survey captures the beginning of the shift from the 4G era to the 5G-connected everything-era. Data-only devices—such as connected cars, IoT devices and wearables—rose to 126.4 million in 2017, up nearly 20 percent year-over-year and 147 percent in the past five years.

“America’s wireless industry continues to grow and set new records for network traffic, wireless connections and network infrastructure deployment,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO of CTIA.  “This year’s report shows that wireless is on the cusp of a transformation to tomorrow’s 5G networks and the Internet of Things, underscoring the need for continued efforts to modernize infrastructure rules and create a spectrum pipeline that ensures continued U.S. wireless leadership in the global race to 5G.”

Other key findings from this year’s survey show that the U.S. wireless industry is:

Building wireless networks for tomorrow’s 5G services. To further extend coverage and prepare for 5G, a record 323,448 cell sites were in operation at the end of 2017—a 52 percent growth over the last decade. Analysts project that wireless carriers will need to deploy roughly 800,000 modern wireless antennas – small cells – in the next few years, and we are starting to see that investment now.

Creating a platform that connects the country. More than 400 million mobile devices are in service, meaning there are 1.2 wireless devices for each American. In addition to 15.7 trillion MBs of mobile data, U.S. wireless networks carried more than 2.2 trillion voice minutes and 1.5 trillion text messages.

Investing in America. Wireless provider capital expenditures totaled $25.6 billion in 2017, and since 2010 when 4G networks were launched, capital investment has exceeded $226 billion.

For the topline results of the 2017 survey’s key metrics, click here.


CTIA® ( represents the U.S. wireless communications industry and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem that enable Americans to lead a 21st century connected life. The association’s members include wireless carriers, device manufacturers, suppliers as well as apps and content companies. CTIA vigorously advocates at all levels of government for policies that foster continued wireless innovation and investment. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices, hosts educational events that promote the wireless industry and co-produces the industry’s leading wireless tradeshow. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C. Follow CTIA on Twitter (@CTIA) and Facebook (@CTIAthewirelessassoc).

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