Study: Mobile data traffic doubled in past year

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The wireless industry has been pressing policymakers to free up more radio frequencies to help them meet the booming demands placed on their networks. The Federal Communications Commission is currently drafting rules to encourage TV stations to sell back their broadcast licenses for auction to mobile carriers.

“With the persistent increase in usage, this survey is another proof point for why our members need more spectrum to meet consumer demands," Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA, said in a statement. "We appreciate the FCC’s [notice of proposed rule-making] on the incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum and hope that its brought to market quickly so that our members may continue to innovate and invest in our nation’s economy.”     

But some skeptics argue that new technologies will be the key to meeting the surging demand for mobile data. The Obama administration has endorsed plans for companies and government agencies to share spectrum bands, rather than just devoting more spectrum for exclusive use by the wireless industry.

The CTIA study found that there are 321.7 million wireless subscriber connections — slightly more than the population of the entire country. The figure is possible because some people have tablet computers, work phones and other devices in addition to their personal cellphones.

The group said the average monthly wireless bill is $47.16 — down slightly from last year's figure of $47.23.

The study found that Americans talked on their cellphones for a total of 2.321 trillion minutes. They sent and received 2.273 trillion SMS text messages and 58.3 billion MMS multimedia messages, according to the study.