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October 29, 2018

We Just Have that Connection: A Brief History of Mobile Broadband .

We Just Have that Connection: A Brief History of Mobile Broadband


CTIA Research Team

On National Internet Day, we’re paying tribute to the “fastest growing technology in human history”—mobile broadband.

The story of mobile broadband began in the early 90’s with the advent of 2G—the first generation of wireless to be digital. 2G’s capabilities and 64 Kbps speeds allowed for basic data services and SMS text messaging. Then came 3G in 2001, which offered faster data transfer rates, enabling basic mobile internet and the games, music streaming and video calling that followed.


Increase in Wireless Speeds

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Increase in Wireless Speeds

The launch of 4G in 2010 changed the way Americans live and work. Fast speeds and increased capacity have made possible the new types of applications and devices—from the apps of the on-demand economy to HD streaming to the smartwatches—we use every day.

While wireless providers have been improving speeds and capacity, they have also been increasing coverage. In fact, the United States enjoys some of the best mobile connectivity in the world, as one of only five countries where more than 90 percent of the population has 4G availability, and with nearly 97 percent of Americans able to choose between three or more 4G LTE service providers.

Because of its capability and convenience, mobile broadband has become the most popular way to go online—currently, 57 percent of all U.S. online traffic comes from our mobile devices. And the number of American adults who are mobile-only internet users is climbing—in 2013, only eight percent of U.S. adults reported relying on their smartphone internet in lieu of home broadband. Presently, that number has reached 20 percent.

Mobile broadband isn’t done evolving, however. 5G is set to take connectivity by storm in the very near future, impacting industries from transportation to healthcare and bringing consumers phenomenal speeds and increased capabilities. We’re excited to have come so far, but with the next generation of wireless connectivity just around the corner—we’re even more excited to see how far we’ll go.

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