Report: Mobile Devices in USA Outnumber Population

Dennis Faas's picture

The number of wireless devices in use in the United States now outnumbers the nation's human population. The figures include tablet devices but the numbers are mainly driven by cellphones.

If anything, the numbers are an understatement as they are based on subscriptions to wireless services. That means people who have devices such as the iPad but only use them via a WiFi connection aren't considered. On the other hand, the numbers do include people who have 3G data subscriptions for portable computers.

According to CTIA, the wireless industry's trade body, there were 327.6 million wireless service subscriptions in the United States at the end of June. That outnumbers the 315.5 million people living in the US. The number of new connections is up 9 per cent over the same time last year. (Source:

While there are still many people who don't use mobile telephone or Internet, the breakthrough has been made possible by people who are either gadget lovers or have both a work and personal cellphone subscription.

Unlimited Data Plans Ousted

Eye-catching as the statistic is, the more significant number for the wireless industry may be the amount of data being used, which was 341.2 billion megabytes from July 2010 through June 2011. That's more than double the figure from the 2009-2010 period, which helps explain why network operators are cutting back on unlimited data deals.

According to the CTIA, operators have already increased their investment in new towers and network tools by almost one-third, to $27.5 billion a year.

Data fees are also now a key part of revenue for wireless operators. Just five years ago, Americans spent $11.3 billion a year on data, around one-tenth of the total spending on wireless services. Now, that figure is $55.4 billion a year, which is just over one-third of the total bill.

Average Spending Down a Touch

Surprisingly, the average spending on wireless services has dropped over the past year, albeit only from $47.47 to $47.23.

The major networks will likely point to that as evidence that claims of a lack of competition in the market are overstated. However, the figures may be distorted by new wireless customers being more likely to select basic packages.

It's also possible that consumers feeling the pinch have cut back on high-cost packages or shopped around for a better deal. (Source:

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