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The amount of wireless data transmitted by Americans continues to increase at an impressive rate, as a CTIA semi-annual survey revealed. The annual U.S. wireless data traffic grew 123 percent from 2010 (388 billion megabytes) to 2011 (866.7 billion megabytes). According to the survey, there was a 43 percent increase in the number of active smartphones and wireless-enabled PDAs in 2011 (111.5 million) compared with 2010 (78.2 million).
In order to handle Americans' demand for wireless data, mobile providers continued to make significant investments in their infrastructure, from upgrading networks from 3G to 4G to increasing the number of cell sites to improve coverage and capacity. In 2011, they reported $25.3 billion in capital expenditures, which was up 2 percent from 2010.
Since 2001, wireless providers invested $246 billion in capital expenditures. This number does not include the billions that wireless companies paid the U.S. government to license spectrum. 2011 was the largest annual increase of operational cell sites with 283,385 at year-end, which was 30,299 more than 2010.
The 12-month survey results for 2011 are:
- Wireless subscriber connections: 331.6 million (104.6 percent penetration); Dec. 2010: 311 million (7 percent increase)
- Wireless network data traffic: 866.7 billion megabytes; Dec. 2010: 388 billion megabytes (123 percent increase)
- Active smartphones and wireless-enabled PDAs: 111.5 million; Dec. 2010: 78.2 million (43 percent increase)
- Number of active data-capable devices: 295.1 million; Dec. 2010: 270.5 million (9 percent increase)
- Wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems: 20.2 million; Dec. 2010: 13.6 million (49 percent increase)
- Minutes of Use (MOU): 2.296 trillion; Dec. 2010: 2.241 trillion (2 percent increase)
- SMS sent and received: 2.304 trillion; Dec. 2010: 2.052 trillion (12 percent increase)
- MMS sent and received: 52.8 billion; Dec. 2010: 56.6 billion
- Average local monthly wireless bill (includes voice and data service): $47.00; Dec. 2010: $47.21