Wireless: What A Difference a Decade Makes

The year is 2001. Alas, videoconferencing hasn't replaced the home phone (and neither Dave nor Hal have embarked on a manned mission to Jupiter). Instead 2G wireless networks, running at 0.006 MB/second, are the best Earth has to offer. Fast forward one decade and 4G LTE networks are the rage, promising speeds of up to 100 Mbps (and reliably delivering on average 7-9 Mbps). This is just one of the stats that document the amazing decade in the U.S. wireless industry put together by services provider Nexius to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.

The company crafted an infographic that shows staggering growth in the last ten years. [PDF].

Here are a few snapshots:

By 2011, everybody and their grandmothers have a cell phone.

Nokia fell from mighty heights into Microsoft's arms.

You need less imagination to see a snake with today's realistic graphics.

But wait, there's more ...

  • U.S. Wireless Subscriber Growth: 202%
  • Phone Usage: 575% increase in the number of minutes/month in the average subscriber plan
  • Cell Site Growth: 163% increase in the number of cell towers covering the nation.
  • Network Speeds: as much as 1,666,567% faster (for those lucky enough to get 100MB/sec speeds)
  • Handset Churn: We are holding onto our phones 18% longer
  • Text Messaging Growth: From almost no texting to an average of 591.5 text messages per user per month.
  • Mobile Internet Usage: From practically no one to 27%, with 110% growth in the last year alone.

What will the next decade bring? 1G speeds? Smartphones replacing laptops altogether (aka the Motorola Atrix model)? Devices becoming part smartphone, part TV, part high-performance gaming device? (Wait, we have that already.) As for Jupiter, Google Earth already covers it, but manned spacecraft driving directions and traffic information would be nice.