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CellLifestyleShotFromATT_0CTIA Annual Wireless Industry Survey

CTIA’s annual wireless industry survey develops industry-wide information drawn from operational member and non-member wireless service providers. It has been conducted since January 1985, originally as a cellular-only survey instrument, and now including PCS, ESMR, AWS and 700 MHz license holders. No break-out of results specific to spectrum bands or licenses is performed. Previously a semi-annual survey, it is now released annually.

The information solicited from the service providers includes: direct employment, number of cell sites, total service revenues, capital investment and other metrics.

The CTIA survey also develops information on the number of reported wireless subscriber units or “connections” for the responding systems, and an estimated total wireless connections figure (taking into account non-responding systems).

To preview the report look at the Annual Year-End 2016 Top-Line Survey Results.

wireless snapshot

The report is available for purchase. If you would like to purchase the report, it is available here, at a member or non-member price. Annual subscriptions are also available.


Key Mobile Trends in the United States
2015 2016
Subscriber Connections 377.9M 395.9M Up 4.8%
Smartphones 228.3M 261.9M Up 14.7%
Tablets 41.0M 47.9M Up 16.7%
Data Traffic 9.65T 13.72T Up 42.2%
SMS Traffic 1.89T 1.66T Down 12.1%
MMS Traffic 218.5B 277.9B Up 27.2%
Wireless Penetration 115.7% 120.6% Up 4.2%



The Annual Wireless Industry Survey is completely voluntary and thus does not yield a 100 percent response rate from all service providers. However, the survey has an excellent response rate. For the December 31, 2016, installment of the survey, CTIA aggregated data from companies serving over 97 percent of all estimated wireless subscriber connections.

Because not all systems do respond, CTIA develops an estimate of total wireless connections. The estimate is developed by determining the identity and character of non-responding markets (e.g., RSA/MSA or equivalent-market designation, age of system, market population), and using surrogate penetration and growth rates applicable to similar, known systems to derive probable subscribership. These numbers are then summed with the reported subscriber connection numbers to reach the total estimated figures.

No carrier-specific or market-specific information is maintained as a result of the survey. All such information is aggregated by an independent accounting firm to a nationwide level. The underlying source material for the survey is then destroyed per confidentiality agreements.

Read the Wireless Snapshot 2017 [PDF]


Last Updated May 2017