Surprise: Americans Consume a Ton of Mobile Data

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If you thought you consumed a lot of mobile data in 2014, you ain't got nothing on 2015.

Americans used 9.6 trillion megabytes of data in 2015, more than double that of 2014 and three times as much as the 3.2 trillion megabytes of data consumption in 2013, according to new data from wireless industry trade group CTIA. That 2015 number, CTIA says, is equal to streaming more than 59,000 videos every day.

Not surprisingly, smartphones are still the device of choice on wireless networks. A total of 228.3 million smartphones were in use in the US last year, up 9.7 percent compared to the 208.1 million smartphones in use in 2014. Wireless networks had 378 million subscribers and saw 2.8 trillion minutes of use during the year.

"Americans today have mobile-first lives," CTIA CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement. "In 2014, we had a record amount of data on our 4G networks. Remarkably, the amount of traffic on mobile networks more than doubled last year and shows no signs of slowing down."

While tablets have been facing some demand problems, there were still 41 million slates that connected to wireless networks in the US last year, up 16 percent from 2014. One other interesting tidbit: 2.1 trillion SMS/MMS messages were sent last year.

The news, Baker argues, highlights "the continued need for a national focus on making more spectrum available to the mobile industry."

The industry will get their chance starting May 31, when the FCC's incentive auction begins. TV broadcasters will offer up unused spectrum to wireless carriers and share in the profit with the feds. The auction features much-sought-after low-band spectrum, which "has the ability to travel for longer distances and penetrate buildings better than higher-band spectrum," the FCC noted in a 2015 report.

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