Wireless Growth Skyrockets

Tina Reilly
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In recent months the wireless industry has shown steady signs of growth and vitality, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) said in its mid-year 2003 report.

Despite murky forecasts, a lagging economy, carrier disputes, and too many competing wireless platforms, wireless usage is on the upsurge and data revenue is skyrocketing, the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry claims.

CTIA draws its statistics from operational member and non-member wireless service providers, including cellular, PCS, and Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio (ESMR).

For this year alone, CTIA claims that total wireless service revenue grew by 13 percent. Cellular carriers in the U.S took in $41.4 billion in the first six months of 2003, a $36.7 billion leap from the first six months of 2002, the association said.

Data services also indicated a significant growth spurt this year with a 70 percent increase over the previous year and total industry revenue of $700 million for the first six months of 2003.

Wireless subscribership increased to 148.1 million by June 2003, up from 134.6 million in June 2002. SMS traffic grew by 31 percent over the previous year, with revenue of 1.2 billion. And the number of digital subscribers topped 128.3 million, an increase of nearly 17 percent since June 2002.

"The wireless industry is sending a clear message to Wall Street and to policymakers," CTIA stated. "Wireless technology is still the best innovator in business today."

According to CTIA President and CEO Tom Wheeler, the wireless industry is just now coming upon its 20th year of existence. Wheeler says that more consumers are using wireless minutes and choosing more wireless services, and they are paying a great deal less for the flexibility and convenience of being in touch by mobile voice or data.

"Wireless data is advancing at a particularly swift clip as more companies introduce more features for consumers and business users alike," stated Wheeler. "From ring tones to picture phones, from text messaging to high-speed wireless web browsing, wireless data is making waves in both the consumer and business marketplaces."