Cellular’s 25th Anniversary – Figures.

The CTIA Wireless Association is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first commercial cellular call in the United State this month.

The first commercial cellular call was placed on October 13, 1983 to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell in Germany from the president of Ameritech Mobile Communications at a ceremony held outside of Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. It launched the nation’s first citywide commercial cellular system.

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X had only 30 minutes of talk time, weighed nearly two pounds and cost some $3,995 (in 1983 dollars).
Martin Cooper (right), a former manager at Motorola, is considered the inventor of the first portable handset. The first call he made in April 1973 was to his rival, Joel Engel, Bell Labs head of research. 
Today there are now more than 262 million wireless subscribers in the United States – 83 percent of the total U.S. population – and 3.3 billion active cell phones worldwide, making it one of the fastest global dispersions of any technology in history.

By the end of 2007, one in six households (16 percent) was wireless-only. According to CTIA:

  •  In the first six months of 2008 (Jan. 1 – June 30) U.S. consumers talked on average a total of 187 billion minutes each month. That is more than 6 billion minutes each day, and amounts to nearly 13 hours (766 minutes) per customer each month.
  •  Text is the New Talk: More than 384 billion text messages were reported by carriers this year between Jan. 1 – June 30 versus 295 billion voice calls. Text messaging is doubling every year.
  • Subscriptions Soaring: The wireless industry saw almost 20 million new subscribers in just the last 12 month period (July 2007 – June 2008).
  •  Monthly Bill Decreasing: During the last 21 years, the average wireless subscriber’s local monthly bill has decreased by 50 percent, dropping from nearly $100 per month in 1987 to less than $49 in June 2008.
  •  Today, wireless service revenues reached $138.9 billion at the end of 2007.

China is by far the largest wireless market on the globe, with a subscriber base of 574.63 million by the end of March, 2008. India is now the second largest wireless market in the world, topping the 258 million total wireless subscribers in the United States this Spring.

  • India is the fastest-growing telecom market in the world thanks to India’s large population, low telephony penetration levels, and rise in consumer income.
  • China has 362 million landline phones [27 per 100 persons] and 565 million [42 per 100 persons] cellular phones (February 2008)
Informa forecasts subscriptions to UMTS/HSPA will number nearly half a billion worldwide by the end of 2009, and will pass the one billion mark in 2012. Currently some 88% use GSM standards while 11% use CDMA.
CTIA: The Wireless Association. 
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