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CTIA offers the most confusing wireless stat du jour

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The CTIA wants you to know that Americans used 123 percent more wireless data in 2011 than 2010, but the wireless industry’s lobby apparently doesn’t want you to know exactly how that translates in any way a normal person understands. Instead the folks decided to use an overly complicated real world example to make the 866.7 billion megabytes used in 2011 meaningful. They turned it into songs. Check it out.

From the release:

To put the wireless data traffic of 2010 compared with 2011 into perspective, if you were walking and listening to five songs per mile and each song lasted for four minutes:

  • In 2010, you would walk 77,601,961,033 miles, or the equivalent of 3,116,419 times around the world for 2,952,890 years and listen to 97 billion songs.
  • In 2011, you would walk 173,364,056,929 miles, or the equivalent of 6,962,132 times around the world for 6,596,806 years and listen to 216.7 billion songs.

Wait, what? If you were confused about your data usage when it was measured in megabytes (how many emails can I send?) wait till CTIA puts it into song. All mocking of the CTIA’s efforts here aside, it does include valuable stats about the industry, including the fact that average monthly wireless bills dropped to $47 in 2011 from $47.21 in 2010. Other stats include the fact that the industry has achieved a penetration rate of 104.6 percent when it comes to wireless connections, suggesting that tablets, cellular hotspots and other devices are still picking up users. CTIA notes there are now 20.2 million wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems, a 49 percent increase from 2010.

The number of active smartphones also rose significantly (43 percent) to 111.5 million up from 78.2 million. And despite worries about a loss of texting revenue, folks still increased their texting by 12 percent, sending 2.304 trillion texts and 52.8 billion MMS messages. In fact, the number of MMS (picture) messages actually dropped by 3.8 billion suggesting that online photo-sharing services such as Instagram are also cutting into carriers’ revenue.

4 Responses to “CTIA offers the most confusing wireless stat du jour”

  1. Don’t fret. Even at a rate of one nonsensical statement per day, CTIA has a very long road ahead if they aspire to catch up to an angry blogger who tries desperately to assert expertise and legitimacy in the absence of any education, experience, or working knowledge beyond a very simplistic and under-informed assumption set. 

  2. Steve Crowley

    From the press release, “wireless data traffic” is somewhat vague. Does that include offloaded femtocell and Wi-Fi traffic? Also, the press release links to web page on the survey, which in turn links to a report preview. One stat there is the number of “cell sites” is up 12% in the last year. What’s a cell site in the small cell era? We know it’s a macrocell. Is it also a femtocell? A Wi-Fi access point? I wish these few details were part of the press release and methodology that were made publicly available.

  3. Confusing? Yeah, to the point of being meaningless. But what would be a meaningful way to express whatever consumers want to know? And what *do* consumers want to know?

    Another question: Why does the CTIA want us to know how much wireless data we used? What’s their point?