Annual survey results released Monday by wireless association CTIA indicate that, during 2015, U.S. wireless subscribers consumed nearly ten trillion megabytes of data. According to CTIA, the 2015 figure constitutes an impressive two-fold jump over the 2014 tally of 4.06 trillion megabytes and three times the 3.2 trillion megabytes used during 2013.
Noting that the 2014 figure for wireless data consumption had been a record at that time, CTIA stressed that this year’s survey results demonstrate the extent to which “Americans today have mobile-first lives.” Meredith Attwell Baker, the president and CEO of CTIA, further remarked how the record pace of data consumption “highlights the continued need for a national focus on making more spectrum available to the mobile industry” as she emphasized that the trend towards increased mobile data usage “shows no sign of slowing down.”
CTIA’s reported figure of 9.6 trillion megabytes for 2015 breaks down to roughly 18 million megabytes per minute, or the equivalent of consumers streaming 59,219 videos per minute. The report also cites a ten percent uptick in smart phone purchases during 2015, resulting in more than 70% of the U.S population owning a smart phone. (Tablet purchases also rose by 16% during that period.) Americans also tallied more than 2.8 trillion minutes on their mobile phones, which represents a 17% increase over the previous year. Analysts attributed the CTIA survey results to the ongoing mobile-only trend in which nearly half of all U.S. households were found last year to have cut their landline subscriptions in favor of mobile phones for both voice and data connectivity. Wider use of data-intensive video services provided by Netflix, YouTube and others were also spotlighted as key contributors to the current data usage trend.
To satisfy the surging data needs of customers, CTIA reported that U.S. wireless carriers invested $32 billion in cellular tower and other infrastructure equipment during 2015 alone. Since 2010, the industry had invested more than $177 billion to improve service capacity and coverage. Adding that the wireless industry also reaped more than $200 billion in revenues during 2015—an increase of 70% over the last decade—CTIA said: “there is little reason to believe this number will go down in the future.”