Blog Post

America’s Amazing Rise to 3G Dominance

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. cell phone subscribers are on a 3G network, according to data released today (and based on info gathered at the end of the first quarter) by Wireless Intelligence. In comparison, at the end of last year only 20 percent of the world’s mobile phones were on a 3G connection. India is in the process of auctioning off its 3G spectrum and China plans to boost its 3G coverage over the next few years, which will boost worldwide 3G. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a lead when it comes to innovation on the wireless front that is driven in no small part by its widespread access to 3G speeds, and its citizens’ willingness and ability to consume them.

In the first quarter of this year, all four of the nation’s top carriers were among the top 10 in the world making money from data revenue, with Verizon (s vz) leading the list for the first time. As power in the industry shifts to mobile computing from the desktop, such dominance is a clear indicator of how fast broadband helps drive innovation.

But it isn’t just the pipe. Consumers have to be able to access the faster networks on their phones, which is why devices like the iPhone (s aapl) have played such a huge role when it comes to both new mobile computing innovations and the boost in data revenues (GigaOM Pro, sub req’d) (and most importantly, data traffic). As we transition to next-generation networks like LTE or WiMAX, the relationship among the pipe, the device and the corresponding level of innovation is notable.

11 Responses to “America’s Amazing Rise to 3G Dominance”

  1. Andrew

    This article has no actual reporting. Why is the author comparing the US 3G usage to the world’s 3G usage? How about meaningful comparisons? And why is revenue from data considered a useful metric?

  2. gabriele

    US had an amazing growth, but it isn’t any kind of “dominance”. Some countries in Western Europe have similar stats and probably also Japan and South Korea.

    • i do not think similar is the word. they are way ahead of us. even without 3.5G/4G they have networks which are far more reliable that actually provide performance close to what they advertise on a consistent basis.

  3. Bryan

    Hi Stacey,

    Always like reading your thoughts on mobile!

    Clearly the US is making a meaningful transition to 3G and 4G with all carriers. Verizon is likely going to be one of the first with a broad commercial LTE platform and Clearwire is an early 4g leader.

    But, you may want to consider a comparison with Canada. It’s notable that all 3 large carriers in Canada have already deployed HSPA+. Furthermore, for a country with 10% of the relative population but equal in geography to the United States, Bell & Telus (collectively via a network sharing agreement) have 93% of the country’s population is covered in HSPA+ today. Rogers has also deployed HSPA+ in pretty much all major urban centers.


    Furthermore, our carriers recognized the value of data by deploying fibre early. Telus started its fibre rollout to base stations/sites well over 2 years ago. Today, Telus has 75% fibre penetration to their sites.

    So, whey you say the US has a lead on 3G, you may want consider little noticed Canada as well. Have all the US carriers deployed HSPA+ to 93% of the country’s population?

    Bryan from Toronto
    …and no, I don’t work for a Canadian carrier…

  4. To think that 4 years ago we were the essentially tied with the third-world in mobile technology. It has been a crazy couple of years, and as Starbuck’s changed the face of coffee, Apple has changed mobility in the US.