Number of cellphones exceeds U.S. population: CTIA trade group


In this June 21, 2011 photo, the HTC Evo 3D smartphone is shown in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP)

The number of mobile devices rose 9 percent in the first six months of 2011, to 327.6 million — more than the 315 million people living in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wireless network data traffic rose 111 percent, to 341.2 billion megabytes, during the same period.

How is this possible? Many adults have more than one wireless device, which include smartphones, tablets, and wireless cards.

Analysts have also pointed to the shorter lifecycle of electronics in U.S. homes, a trend prompted mostly by the availability of high-speed wireless access and more affordable devices.

The typical home of 2.6 people has an average of 24 gadgets, including at least one smartphone — double the number 15 years ago, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group.

CTIA’s data comes from a semi-annual survey that was relesaed Tuesday ahead of its fall business convention this week in San Diego. Tablets and laptops make up a small portion of those wireless network-connected devices at 15.2 million, up 17 percent from a year earlier.

The figures come amid big changes in the wireless industry. It is difficult to say how new data caps imposed by AT&T and Verizon Wireless are affecting consumers, and whether users are hitting their monthly limits. Users are expected to offload heavy data use onto Wi-Fi hot spots, analysts say.

Text messages continue to be massively popular, with 1.138 trillion sent in the past year, up 16 percent.

All those new connections have boosted revenues for the wireless industry, up 6 percent to $164.6 billion in the 12 months ending June, 2011.

Related:

As more tech titans provide TV, gadgets proliferate

Justice Department sues to block AT&T, T-Mobile merger

Verizon Wireless to end unlimited data

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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