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CTIA: Mountain of Mobile Data Consumed in 2017

CTIA's annual wireless survey found significant growth in data use, cell sites and data-only devices as the industry prepares to transition to 5G and continues to search for spectrum to meet consumer demand.

The survey found that Americans used a record 15.7 trillion megabytes of mobile data in 2017, almost four times the traffic in 2014 and 40 times the volume in 2010.

Or as CTIA put it, that record data usage is the equivalent of "nearly 250 million people simultaneously binge-watching every episode of Game of Thrones in HD." Not to mention, though CTIA did, 2.2 trillion voice minutes and 1.5 trillion texts.

Related: CTIA Wants FCC to Designate July Midband Month

Other big numbers were the 323,448 cell sites in operation at the end of 2017, up more than 50% in the last decade; the $25.6 billion in capital expenditures by wireless providers; and the 400 million mobile devices in service (or 1.2 for every American).

CTIA put in a plug for modernized rules that allow for that big spectrum pipe.

“This year’s report shows that wireless is on the cusp of a transformation to tomorrow’s 5G networks and the Internet of Things, underscoring the need for continued efforts to modernize infrastructure rules and create a spectrum pipeline that ensures continued U.S. wireless leadership in the global race to 5G," said CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker.

That call comes as the FCC is preparing this week to propose opening up more spectrum -- the C-band used for broadcast and cable network delivery -- for wireless broadband, one of many such efforts to expand the pipeline.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.