CTIA: Wireless Infrastructure Investments Up Nearly $2B in 2018


Americans used 82 percent more mobile data in 2018 than in 2017, according to CTIA’s latest Annual Wireless Industry Survey. The 2019 survey analyzes wireless data from 2018. Results showed an increase in wireless across nearly every metric, reflecting unprecedented consumer demand, according to the association.

The wireless industry increased its investments to support this growth. Since the launch of 4G in 2010, the industry has made over $253 billion in capital investments. This year, the industry’s investments increased $1.8 billion to a total of $27.4 billion, up more than 25,000 sites from 2017, according to CTIA.

Much of this investment goes toward expanding the capacity and coverage of wireless networks and upgrading their technology to support 5G, including increased infrastructure deployment. In 2018, 349,344 cell sites were in operation—an increase of more than 25,000 sites from 2017. That’s the biggest year-over-year increase since 2010-2011, when providers began deploying 4G.

Other survey highlights include:

  • Consumers are connecting more devices — especially Internet of Things products. In 2018, Americans connected 421.7 million mobile devices — up 21.5 million from the year prior. Of those devices, 284.7 million were smartphones. The biggest growth was in data-only devices, such as smartwatches, IoT devices, and connected cars — which saw an increase of more than 10 percent, to 139.4 million devices.
  • Traditional talking and texting still play a key role in communication. While much of today’s wireless communication happens over wireless data, 2018 saw an increase in voice calls and traditional text messaging. Consumers spent nearly 2.4 trillion minutes talking on their mobile devices last year—up nearly 10 percent from 2017. They also exchanged over 2 trillion text messages (combined SMS and MMS), a nearly 16 percent increase year-over-year.

See the full survey results here.

June 21, 2019

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