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Americans more than double their mobile data use in a year

The love of mobile data in the US should not be underestimated, according to a new wireless industry survey.


Americans can't get enough mobile data.

Lori Grunin/CNET

US mobile customers more than doubled their data usage last year while carrier revenue inched up, according to the CTIA wireless industry trade group's annual survey released Monday.

Annual wireless data usage jumped from 4.6 trillion megabytes in 2014 to 9.65 trillion megabytes in 2015. That's the equivalent of more than 400 million 2GB movie downloads each month last year. Americans spent 17 percent more time on voice calls last year, reaching 2.88 trillion minutes on their mobile phones. They sent 44 percent more multimedia messages -- likely cat photos -- for a total of 218.5 billion. Meanwhile, plain old texting dropped by 1.5 percent to 1.89 trillion messages.

While carriers snagged a 6.3 percent increase in subscribers last year to reach 377.9 million, their revenue grew by only 2.2 percent to about $191.9 billion. Capital investment has dipped two years in a row, touching $32 billion last year. Over 2015, only about 9,600 new cell towers sprang up across the nation. Cold comfort for folks in remote locations.

Correction, 8:10 a.m. PT: The data and subscriber figures have been fixed.