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Aug 25, 2020

2020 Annual Survey Highlights .

2020 Annual Survey Highlights document cover


For 35 years and as each generation of wireless became an integral part of our lives and economy, CTIA has been surveying U.S. wireless providers to tell the story of this dynamic industry. 2020’s CTIA Annual Survey looks back on a year of growth and groundwork as providers lit up their initial 5G networks while supporting record consumer demand for everything wireless.

Investing in America’s Wireless Future.

Let’s start with the foundation of the wireless industry’s work to provide Americans with world-leading mobile connectivity: investment. Providers have invested over $286B in America’s wireless networks since the start of 2010. This year’s investment of $29.1B is equal to $89 per capita. By contrast, China invests $21.85 per capita.

U.S. Wireless Industry is a Capex Leader.

This non-stop investment cycle differentiates our industry—and pays real dividends as providers continue building the next generation of wireless. By the end of year, three nationwide 5G networks will be available across the U.S. Our investment also fuels our growth and economic contribution as an industry. Today, the U.S. wireless industry is now larger than the insurance, hotels and restaurants, and transportation industries.

Handling COVID-Driven Wireless Increases.

Wireless investment also meant providers were prepared to handle the unprecedented, nearly overnight surges in mobile voice and data use due to COVID-19. COVID-19 presented the ultimate stress test, and America’s wireless networks passed with flying colors.

Building the Backbone of Wireless Networks.

Much of this investment has been in 5G-ready cell sites and antennas. There are now 395,562 active sites across the country, many of which support multiple base stations. Thanks to new federal and state policies that streamline their zoning and permitting, the industry built more cell sites last year than the previous three years combined.

Demand for Mobile Data Continues to Grow.

Investment in network capacity means the wireless industry is ready to meet growing demand for mobile data. Last year, subscribers used more than 37.06 trillion MBs of data – 30% growth year over year. The additional 8.5 trillion MBs added in the last year is 43% more than the industry’s first four years of data traffic combined.

More of Everything Wireless.

Americans continue to connect more wireless devices, with notable increases in laptops, tablets, and data-only devices, as Internet of Things products grow in availability and adoption.

Wireless Use is up Across All Metrics.

Americans continue to use their wireless devices more and more–with the increase in data consumption outpacing the number of new devices added. Last year, the average smartphone user consumed 6.6 GB per month. This year that number is up to 9.2 GB per month. And it’s not just data use that’s up–voice minutes and text messages also increased year-over-year.

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