U.S. has more mobile subscribers than people, study finds

The CTIA Wireless Association says that there are 327.6 million wireless subscriber connections, besting the more than 300 million people living in the U.S. and its territories.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

The U.S. has more subscribers to wireless services than people, a new study released yesterday by CTIA has found.

According to the organization, at the end of June, there were 327.6 million wireless service subscribers in the U.S., compared to 315.5 million people living in the country and its territories. CTIA said in a statement that this marks the first time that there are more mobile devices in use than people living in the country.

The growth of wireless services has helped carriers increase revenues, CTIA said. The organization found that wireless service revenue hit $164.6 billion in the 12-month period that ended June 2011, up 6 percent compared to the same period a year prior.

In addition to subscriber data, CTIA delivered a host of statistics on the state of the wireless industry. And across the board, things are looking up.

According to the organization, wireless network data traffic hit 341.2 billion megabytes through the first six months of 2011, more than doubling the 161.5 billion megabytes U.S. subscribers used in the first half of 2010. In addition, nearly 96 million smartphones and PDAs were in use through June, up 57 percent compared to the 61.2 million smartphones and PDAs used during the same period last year.

Much of that growth can be attributed to the increasing popularity of the iPhone and Android-based smartphones. For example, during its last-reported quarter, ended June 25, Apple sold more than 20 million iPhones worldwide. To say that smartphones are becoming an integral component in the average's consumer's life would be an understatement.

All told, there were 278.3 million data-capable devices being used in the U.S. at the end of June.

Looking beyond devices, CTIA also reported that Americans used a total of 1.15 trillion minutes on wireless networks during the six-month period ended June 2011, growing 1 percent over the prior year. In addition, a whopping 1.14 trillion text messages were sent during the period, up 16 percent from the 982.9 billion SMS messages sent in the prior year.

With all that usage, consumer bills are moving (slightly) down, CTIA said. The organization found that the average monthly wireless bill in the U.S. is $47.23, down nearly a quarter from the $47.47 consumers were paying last year.

CTIA's study comes as the organization is hosting its Enterprise & Applications convention in San Diego this week. Surf over to the CNET CTIA blog to see full coverage of the event.