The CTIA published its semi-annual Wireless Industry Survey today, covering annual statistics spanning 25 years of wireless service in the US. Pouring over the data is insightful to say the least.
Going back to 1985, the survey shows there was a mere 203,600 total wireless subscribers in the US, growing to just shy of 293M today. In terms of 12-month total service revenues for wireless operators, the survey shows a grand total of $354M in 1985, growing substantially to nearly $156B in 2010. For 12-month so-called “Roamer Revenues,” the first data recorded was in 1989, showing a total of $210M. Today, revenue generated from roaming charges amounts to nearly $2.9B.
Other interesting data points include the fact that in 1985, only 599 cell sites were installed in the US. Today, there are over 251,000. The average monthly wireless bill in 1988 was over $95, while the monthly price has dropped substantially to an average of $47.47 today.
What’s interesting is that the data this survey represents over the last 25 years is pretty accurate, and thus a pretty complete representation of the entire wireless industry — something that’s hard to come by with most surveys conducted today. The CTIA says that while they don’t achieve a 100% response rate from all service providers, it’s very close. For the June 30,2010 installment of the semi-annual survey, for example, the CTIA received responses from companies serving 95.5% of wireless subscriber connections.