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Americans Keep Calling and Texting as Data Use Explodes

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Felix Richter

While the arrival and mass adoption of mobile phones was undoubtedly a pivotal moment in telecommunication history, the arrival of smartphones was arguably an even bigger leap, if measured by the impact on people’s everyday lives. In little more than a decade, smartphones have revolutionized the way we live, work and communicate, enabling us to stay connected with loved ones, access information, entertainment and countless services, or even run businesses from the palm of our hands.

The rapid evolution of smartphone technology and mobile networks has made all this possible, as the speed of mobile broadband networks and the amount of data flowing through them has increased manyfold over the past decade. According to data from the CTIA, annual data consumption in the United States has grown almost 140-fold between 2010 and 2021, reaching 53.4 trillion megabytes that year.

Interestingly, the rise of mobile internet and app usage has had a relatively minor effect on voice traffic and SMS/MMS volume, which has barely moved since 2010. Voice minutes even increased from 2.2 trillion in 2010 to 2.4 trillion in 2021, although it must be said that there have been some fluctuations during that period. The same is true for SMS/MMS volume, which decreased slightly from 2.1 to 2.0 trillion over the same period.

Taking into account that the number of mobile subscriptions grew by roughly 25 percent between 2010 and 2021, there has been a slight decline in use of voice and messaging services, albeit not a pronounced as one could have expected. Even in the age of instant messengers, and internet-based voice and video calls, it seems that Americans keep calling and texting.

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