Wireless Providers Invested $29 Billion in 2019 to Fast-Track 5G Deployment in USA

According to CTIA’s Annual Survey, America’s wireless providers invested $29.1 Billion last year (a four-year high) - to meet the unprecedented demand for mobile data and to continue to build out the 5G networks that will power the U.S. economy over the next decade.

This significant investment helped prepare U.S. wireless networks for the traffic spikes and shifts from COVID-19 this year and handle last year's 37 trillion MBs of mobile data, which represents a 30% increase from the year prior and is 96 times the amount of mobile data used in 2010.

Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO, said that thanks to remarkable levels of investment, America’s wireless networks are keeping them connected when they need it, giving consumers the best wireless experience in the world. This non-stop investment cycle differentiates the wireless industry and is paying real dividends as their members build 5G networks across the country, creating jobs and helping the economy recover.

CTIA's Annual Survey has tracked the trajectory of the wireless industry for 35 years. This year's key findings include:

  • Wireless investment continues to rise. Industry investment increased to $29.1 billion in 2019, marking a four-year high. This accounts for 18% of the world's spending on wireless, while the U.S. represents just 4.5% of the world's population. 
  • Mobile traffic continues to grow. Mobile traffic increased by 30% year-over-year to 37 trillion MBs. That's 43% more than the industry's first four years of data traffic combined and a 96-fold increase from 2010 when 4G was first deployed in the U.S. 
  • The 5G rollout intensifies. Last year, the wireless industry added over 46,000 more cell sites—more than the combined growth from 2015 to 2018—to reach 395,562 active sites across the country and continue building the backbone of U.S. 5G networks. 
  • Voice minutes and text messages continue to increase. Voice minutes are up nearly 30% to 3.1 trillion and text traffic increased to 2.1 trillion—up 52 billion texts from the year prior. 
  • Total wireless connections are at highest total ever. Wireless connections increased by over 20 million for a total of 442.5 million and data-only devices like smartwatches and connected cars grew more than 25% to 174.8 million.

"Such remarkable year-over-year progress shows the power of the wireless industry to deliver for American consumers when policymakers enhance a spectrum, siting and regulatory framework that promotes investment and competition," added Attwell Baker.

Click here to view results from CTIA's 2020 Annual Survey.