The 4G Decade: Quantifying the Benefits

  • Published On: Jul 2020
  • Pages: 15
  • Type: PDF

According to a report by Recon Analytics and CTIA, 4G wireless networks powered remarkable economic growth and transformed the way Americans live and work. The study shows the powerful impact of wireless on the economy as American providers begin to rollout next-generation 5G networks, which will create a new 5G economy over the next decade.

The report's key findings include that nearly 10% of the GDP increase of the entire U.S. economy from 2011 to 2019 was due to the growth of the U.S. wireless industry, and that U.S. 4G networks support 20 million jobs, drove nearly $700 billion in economic contribution last year alone, and save consumers $130 billion each year.

Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO, stated that the 4G success didn’t happen overnight, investment dollar by investment dollar, cell site by cell site, America's wireless industry brought the benefits of high-speed mobile broadband to communities across America, creating jobs, powering economic growth and spurring innovations that make lives better. Over the next decade, their emerging 5G economy will unleash even greater consumer benefits and maintain America's position as the world's innovation hub.

Today, 4G networks are widely available and there are more 4G subscriptions in the United States than people. As the study shows, however, this was the result of 10 years of gradual network improvements, industry investment, spectrum auctions and innovation.

Additional highlights include:

  • Between 2011 and 2019, U.S. wireless industry GDP grew 253%. In 2019, the industry contributed $690.5 billion to U.S. GDP, which would make America's wireless industry the world's 21st largest economy. 
  • At the start of the decade, the wireless industry enabled 3.7 million U.S. jobs. By the end of the 4G decade, wireless-enabled jobs grew to 20.4 million—one out of every six U.S. jobs, which makes wireless the largest job contributor across all industries. 
  • In 2010, an unlimited data, talk and text plan cost $113.87 on average for one line. By 2019, that same plan cost $64.95. That means U.S. subscribers now save $130 billion annually in wireless plan costs, without considering the added value of faster speeds, superior network availability and more powerful mobile devices available today.

The report's findings make clear that 4G's impact in the U.S. can be felt across every meaningful measure, from job growth and network speeds to data traffic and GDP contribution. The trajectory of U.S. 4G development should serve as a guide to consider—and to enable—the full transformational power of the coming 5G decade.