U.S. wireless networks supported more data traffic than ever in 2022 — 73 trillion megabytes (MB ) – 38% higher than for the previous year, according to CTIA’s 2023 Annual Wireless Industry Survey.

The wireless data demand increase was the largest increase in mobile data traffic ever, nearly double the year-over-year increase from 2020-2021.

The U.S. wireless industry also worked to ensure it could support even more traffic in future years by investing a record $39 billion to grow, improve and run their networks, an increase of 12% in comparison with 2021.

Other key findings in the report:

  • 5G adoption grows: By the end of 2022, the U.S. had nearly 162 million active 5G devices—nearly double the number of 5G devices in 2021.
  • Cell sites fuel a faster 5G rollout: In 2022, there were more than 142,000 small cells operating across the U.S.—a 13% increase over 2021.
  • Voice minutes increase: Consumers spent more than 2.5 trillion minutes on voice calls in 2022, a nearly 5% increase from 2021.

“Record wireless consumer usage is a powerful reminder of how 5G is transforming our nation, and the pressing need for Congress and the Administration to restore the FCC’s auction authority and fuel a new spectrum pipeline,” Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA president and CEO, said in a prepared statement about the U.S. wireless traffic research.

“As demonstrated yet again last year, we know the wireless industry is fully committed to investing at historic levels in today and tomorrow’s infrastructure, leading the world in wireless innovation.  We just need more licensed, exclusive-use, full-power, mid-band spectrum to keep up with the increasing demand of both consumers and enterprises, and fully unlock the promise of 5G across our country.”

The amount of traffic that wireless networks can support depends on the speed of customer connections. Recent research from Ookla found carriers supporting average download speeds as high as 165 Mbps.

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