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Summary:

The nation’s two largest carriers added more connected devices last quarter than postpaid subscriptions, according to data released this morning by Chetan Sharma. In his quarterly update he noted that wireless penetration in the U.S. surpassed 100 percent if one takes out children under five.

The nation’s two largest carriers added more connected devices last quarter than postpaid subscriptions, according to data released this morning by Chetan Sharma, a wireless analyst. Carriers added 2.6 million connected devices and 1.2 million contract customers. In his quarterly update, Sharma noted that wireless penetration in the U.S. reached 95 percent and surpassed 100 percent if one takes out children younger than five. While there are only 20 million connected devices out of 311.3 million subscriptions, the devices are where the growth is.

Other than making you wonder what six-year-olds are toting cell phones, the data indicates that the Internet of things has clearly dawned, and with it, a new arena of competition. So far AT&T is banking heavily on it and has even won some deals, in part because its GSM-based network is compatible with the networks used in the rest of the world, while Verizon and Sprint’s CDMA networks are U.S.-only. Such incompatibilities mean device-makers would have to make separate products for the U.S., which adds expenses and complications. It also means connected devices wouldn’t travel internationally and retain a connection. This issue of incompatible networks may be another reason that Verizon is pushing its LTE launch so aggressively, and why a transition to LTE will benefit Clearwire-Sprint in the long term. For more on the growth of the Internet of things, check out our panel devoted to the topic at our Mobilize conference in September.

In addition to the rise of more connected gadgets, Sharma points out that U.S. consumers are data hogs on smartphones, using 230 MB on average — a number that’s up 50 percent in the last six months. He writes:

[The] US has become ground zero for mobile broadband consumption and data traffic management evolution. While it lags Japan and Korea in 3G penetration by a distance, due to higher penetration of smartphones and datacards, the consumption is much higher than its Asian counterparts. Given that it is also becoming the largest deployment base for HSPA+ and LTE, most of the cutting edge research in areas of data management and experimentation with policy, regulations, strategy, and business models is taking place in the networks of the U.S. operators and keenly watched by players across the global ecosystem.

Kinda makes you rethink the value of AT&T’s $15 per month 200 MB data plan, huh?

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The Internet of Things: What It Is, Why It Matters

  1. Stacy – I’m not trying to be obnoxious here, I truly want to know – if Verizon deployed and Sprint/Clear converted, so they both had nationwide LTE networks by Q4….what is your earliest best-guess for them turning off CDMA voice?

    Even if we had one standard in the US – the radio is still going to have be multi-frequency due to the different carriers (and switched by software/SIM), isn’t it?

    Too bad there isn’t a standard bus for a separately-purchased radio chip. Buy whatever phone you want, and buy your carrier specific radio to put into it.

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  2. Marshall Kirkpatrick Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    I’m sorry Stacy, call me a wireless noob (heck, you could probably call me worse!), but what has this got to do with the Internet of Things? The connection isn’t clear to me.

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    1. Marshall Kirkpatrick Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      Aha, sorry. Hadn’t had enough coffee yet. Please ignore me. :) NIce find.

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  3. [...] industry analyst Chetan Sharma. As Stacy Higginbotham, who first reported on these numbers, wrote today, "the data indicates that the Internet of things has clearly dawned, and with it, a new arena [...]

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  4. I’m somewhat more cynical about the declaration of the dawn of the Internet of Things. If anyone read the original United Nations document about this, there was a lot more to it than what this article states, and clearly Stacey has authored this article as if the U.S. is the center of the world which it is not. Please go back and re-read the original UN document, but be sure not to plagiarize it.

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    1. The UN? They are not credible nor effective in anything they do, let alone technology commentary! It’s fascinating how many people come to US-based technology blogs, and complain that the material is not sufficiently world-centric. Sorry, but for 90% percent of tech topics, the US is very clearly the center of the universe.

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      1. @Conquistador I agree and disagree. Did you forget that Skype (whose going to try and raise $100B in an IPO soon) emerged from Estonia? Did you forget that Linux had its roots in Finland? Did you forget that Python’s core maintainer (Guido van Rossum) is from Holland? And Ruby was developed by Matz in Japan? Oh, and did you forget that the first web app was developed by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXT Cube in 1990 at CERN in the United Kingdom? Oopsie daises, looks like @Conquistador gets an F for his tech history exam today. So get out of town, the world doesn’t need your b.s.

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      2. Hi Eddie – sorry for the slow responses, I was busy surfing all the quality Euro tech blogs this morning (Oh wait…). That Skype thing sounds good – what time does the Estonian Stock market open, anyway? Last time I checked, Linus Torvalds was living in Silicon Valley, and Linux would still idling in the basements of geeks everywhere if IBM hadn’t dumped a couple billion dollars towards the cause. Python? Great, but a NASA guy wrote PERL. You’re right about TBL, but it took Andreesen/Clark and Netscape to start the avalanche that has become the web of today.

        I’ll rephrase for the court: It’s possible that the US is not the center of the tech universe, but it sure as hell isn’t anyone else.

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      3. @Conquistador wrote:

        Last time I checked, Linus Torvalds was living in
        Silicon Valley

        You better check again instead of spreading misinformation. By spreading misinformation your reputation decreases substantially. You also come across as lazy because the answer to where Linus currently resides is found easily on his Wikipedia page < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Torvalds >

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      4. Clever James, but “Last time I checked…” is hardly spreading disinformation. For purposes of the above theme (U.S vs. elsewhere) there’s not much difference between Portland and Santa Clara – is there?

        And people with ambiguous pseudonyms don’t have a reputation to create or destroy.

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  5. Wifi for internet of things instead of cell network? Makes more sense and few companies have started working on the same
    http://green.venturebeat.com/2010/08/10/gainspan-wants-your-fridge-to-use-wi-fi/

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  6. [...] connected devices are the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday, Stacey wrote about the dawn of the age of the Internet of Things, pointing to the furious pace at which carriers are [...]

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  7. [...] Colin Gibbs Aug. 14, 2010, 9:00am PDT No Comments    0 The dawning age of the “Internet of things” will see connectivity come to a wide variety of gadgets and services. Of course, that surge of [...]

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  8. But it’s not just about wireless, cellphones… a lot of things are happening everywhere re: bridging the Internet to the real world, digital+analogical+people… The article should have mentioned Arduino, the rapidly-expanding, open source movement.
    The Interweb of Things http://bit.ly/9f2RFG

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  9. [...] STATS: The Internet of Things Has Dawned — Objects Outpace New Subscribers to AT&T and [...]

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  10. [...] industry analyst Chetan Sharma. As Stacy Higginbotham, who first reported on these numbers, wrote today, “the data indicates that the Internet of things has clearly dawned, and with it, a new [...]

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